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Full text of "Land at last [electronic resource]: a novel"

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CHARLES LEVER'S WORKS, f 



Price 6s. per Volume, demy 8vo, Cloth. 

LIBRARY EDITION, 
With all. the: Original Illustrations by "Phiz." 



1 



3 

4 
5 



LUTTEELL OE AEEAN 
BAEEIMTON 

MAETIISofCEO'MAETLI - 
TOM BUEKE OE "OUES" - 
HAEEY LOEEEQTTEE 

6 JACK HINOT 

7 THE DALTOIS 

8 ONE OE THEM 

9 CHAELES O'MALLEY 

10 DODD FAMILY ABEOAD - 

11 THE O'DONO&HUE - 

12 DAYENPOET DTJM - 

13 MIGHT OE &WYME 

14 EOLAID CASHEL - 

15 LOED KILGrOBBIN - 

16 BEAMLEI&HS OE BISHOP'S 

EOILY - 

17 (M CEEGAN 



1 6 Illustrations. 
28 Illustrations, 



!. 



32 Illustrations. 
26 Illustrations. 
40 Illustrations. 
44 Illustrations. 
22 Illustrations. 
26 Illustrations. 
48 Illustrations. 
30 Illustrations. 
44 Illustrations. 
40 Illustrations. 
16 Illustrations. 
44 Illustrations. ,\ ■ 
44 Illustrations. 
44 Illustrations. 
18 Illustrations. 



The collected Works of Charles Lever in a Uniform Series 
must, like the Novels of Scott, Bulwer, Dickens, Thackeray, and 
Anthony Trollope, find a place on the shelves of every well-selected 
library. No modern productions of fiction have gaified a greater 
reputation for their writer : few authors equal him in the humour and 
spirit of his delineations of character, and none surpass him for lively ( 
descriptive power and never-flagging story. 

London : CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, Piccadilly. 



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ANTHONY TROLLOPE'S WORKS. 






CHEAP EDITION (640 pp.,) PEICE SIX SHILLINGS, 




1AGE 

1 Emory University Library || ^ • 




§ 

CM Is. ; 3s. 6c?. cloth. 

U 1 HEIR 

f LAMS 

8^ //i Memoriam 8S -^l- 

® MEUHVEHER? 

m Ruth Candler Lovett 9 ™ 

I 1935-1964 ^ HEIGHT 

^f j «. v^j lis command. He 

%& Sjfc v^ ' his P ictures are 

^ ?: = 5!;: ^ :::S: ^JH[ lw^§£<}€^<3^~ is after effect; is 

kJB * lilty of caricature. 

; that have passed 

owed heroine after 

r -— " _ 

4' heroine of his from the dawn of her love to its happy or disastrous 

close, and one is astounded at one's own ingratitude in writing a word 

against a succession of tales that 'give delight and hurt not." — 

Fortnightly Renj'ienu, 

PICCADILLY. 




LONDON 



CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, 



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POPULAR VOLUMES 

OF THE 

Select Library of Fiction, 



\ 



PRICE 3S., 

1 Austin Elliot 

By Henry Kingsley. 

2 Geoffry Hamlyn 

By Henry Kingsley. 

3 The Hillyars and Burtons 

By Henry Kingsley. 

4 Silcote of Sileotes 

By Henry Kingsley. 

5 Leighton Court 

By Henry Kingsley. 

6 Ravenshoe 

By Henry Kingsley. 

7 Agatha's Husband 

By Author of " John Halifax." 

8 Head of the Family 

By Author of " John Halifax." 

9 The Ogilvies 

By Author of "John Halifax." 

10 Olive: a Novel 

By Author of "John Halifax." 

11 Mary Barton 

By Mrs. Gaakell. 

12 Ruth : a Novel 

By Mrs. Gaskell. 

13 Two Marriages 

By Author of " John Halifax." 

14 A Rent in a Cloud 

By Charles Lever. 

15 Jack Hinton 

By Charles Lever. 

ig Harry Lorreciuer 

By Charles Lever. 

17 The O'Donoghue 

By Charles Lever 



PRICE 3s. 6d. 

By CHARLES LEVER. 

35 Charles O'Malley 

36 The Daltons 

37 Knight of Gwynne 

38 The Dodd Family Abroad 

39 Tom Burke of "Ours" 

40 Davenport Dunn 

41 Roland Cashel 

42 Martins of Cro' Martin 

43 Maurice Tiernay 

London 



CLOTH EXTRA. 

18 Barrington 

By Charles Lever. 

19 The Fortunes of Glencore 

By Charles Lever. 

20 Luttrel of Arran 

By Charles Lever. 

21 Sir Jasper Carew 

By Charles Lever. 

22 A Day's Ride 

By Charles Lever. 

23 One of Them 

By Charles Lever. 

24 Queen of the Seas 

By Captain Armstrong 1 . 

25 He would be a Gentleman 

By Samuel Lover, 

26 Irish Stories and Legends 

By Samuel Lover. 

27 Lotta Schmidt 

By Anthony Trollope. 

28 The Macdermots 

By Anthony Trollope. 

29 Castle Richmond 

By Anthony Trollope. 

30 The Kellys 

By Anthony Trollope. 

31 Mary Gresley 

By Anthony Trollope. 

32 Rachel Ray 

By Anthony Trollope. 

33 Tales of all Countries 

By Anthony Trollope. 

34 Miss Mackenzie 

By Anthony Trollope. 



IN CLOTH EXTRA. 

By ANTHONY TROLLOPE. 

44 Orley Farm 

45 Can You Forgive Her? 

46 Phineas Finn 

47 He Knew he was Right 

48 Ralph the Heir 

49 Doctor Thorne 

50 The Bertrams 

51 Belton Estate 



CHAPMAN AND HALL. 

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193, Piccadilly. 

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LAND AT LAST. 



LAND AT LAST. 



% literal 



BY 

EDMUND YATES, 

AUTHOR OF 

"FORLORN HOPE," 

" BLACK SHEEP,'' 

ETC. ETC. 



" Post tenebras lux." 



NEW EDITION, 



LONDON : 

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 



CONTENTS. 



b;ook i. 

I. In thk Streets 

II. The Brethren of the Brush 

III. Blotted out .. 

IV. On the Door-step.. 
V. The Letter .. 

VI. The First Visit 
VII. Chez Potts .. 
VIII. Throwing the Fly 
IX. Sunshine in the Shade. 
X. Your William 
XI. Playing the Fish .. 
XII. Under the Harrow 

XIII. At the Private View . 

XIV. Those Twain One Flesh 



Vage 

6 
18 

27 
34 
44 
53 
63 
72 

84 

94 
101 
109 

I2-J 



BOOK II. 

I. New Relations 131 

II. Margaret 142 

III. Annie 150 

IV. Algy Barford's News 158 

V. Settling down 162 

VI. At Home 171 

VII. What their Friends thought i8r 

VIII. Margaret and Annie 193 

IX. Mr. Ampthill's Will 202 

X. Lady Beauport's Plot 215 

XL Conjectures .. 222 

XII. Gathering Clouds 231 

XIII. Mr. Stompff's Doubts 239 

XIV. Threatening 247 

XV. Lady Beauport's Plot collapses .. . , se6 



VI 



Contents. 



BOOK III. 

I. The Whole Truth 
II. The Reverse of the Medal 

III. Gone to his Rest .. 

IV. The Protracted Search 
V. Dismay 

VI. A Clue 

VII. Tracked 

VIII. In the Deep Shadow 
IX. Closing in .. .. .. 

X. After the Wreck. 
XI. Land at Last ., 



Page 

271 
286 
297 

309 
322 

334 
343 
353 
368 

378 
387 




LAND AT LAST. 



}ao\i % Jfirst, 



CHAPTER I. 



IN THE STREETS. 



IT was between nine and ten o'clock on a January night, 
and the London streets were in a state of slush. 
During the previous night snow had fallen heavily, and the 
respectable portion of the community, which, according to 
regular custom, had retired to bed at eleven o'clock, had 
been astonished, on peering out from behind a corner of the 
window-curtain when they arose, to find the roads and the 
neighbouring housetops covered with a thick white incrusta- 
tion. The pavements were already showing dank dabs of 
footmarks, which even the snow then falling failed to fill up ; 
and the roadway speedily lost its winter-garment and became 
sticky with congealed mud. Then the snow ceased, and a 
sickly straggling bit of winter-sunlight, a mere parody on the 
real thing, half light and half warmth, came lurking out 
between the dun clouds ; and under its influence the black- 
specked covering of the roofs melted, and the water-pipes 
ran with cold black liquid filth. The pavement had given 
it up long ago, and resumed its normal winter state of sticky 
slippery grease — grease which clung to the boots and roused 
the wildest rage of foot-passengers by causing them to slip 
backward when they wanted to make progress, and which 
accumulated in the direst manner on the landing-places and 

B 



2 Land at LasU 

street corners, — the first bits of refuge after the perils of the 
crossing, — where it heaped itself in aggravating lumps and 
shiny rings under the heels of foot passengers just arrived, 
having been shaken and stamped off the soles of passengers 
who had just preceded them. So it had continued all 
day ; but towards the afternoon the air had grown colder, 
and a whisper had run round that it froze again. Cutlers who 
had been gazing with a melancholy air on the placards 
" Skates " in their window, and had determined on removing 
them, as a bad joke against themselves, decided on letting 
them remain. Boys who had been delighted in the morning 
at the sight of the snow, and proportionately chopfallen 
towards middle-day at the sight of the thaw, had plucked up 
again and seen visions of snowballing matches, slides on the 
gutters, and, most delicious of all, omnibus-horses both down 
at once on the slippery road. Homeward-bound City-clerks, 
their day's work over, shivered in the omnibuses, and told 
each other how they were afraid it had come at last, and 
reminded each other of what the newspapers had said about 
the flocks of wild-geese and other signs of a hard winter, and 
moaned lugubriouslyabout the advanced price of coals and the 
difficulties of locomotion certain to be consequent on the frost. 
But when the cruel black night had set regularly in, a dim 
jleek soft drizzle began to fall, and all hopes or fears of frost 
were at an end. Slowly and gently it came down, wrapping 
the streets as with a damp pall ; stealing quietly in under 
umbrellas ; eating its way through the thickest broadcloth, 
matting the hair and hanging in dank, unwholesome beads 
on the beards of all unlucky enough to be exposed to it. It 
meant mischief, this drizzle, and it carried out its intention. 
Omnibus-drivers and cabmen knew it at once from long 
experience, donned their heavy tarpaulin-capes, and made 
up their minds for the worst. The professional beggars 
knew it too. The pavement-chalking tramp, who had 
selected a tolerably dry spot under the lee of" a wall, no 
sooner felt its first damp breath than he blew out his paper- 
lantern, put the candle into his pocket, stamped out as much 
of the mackerel and the ship at sea as he had already sten- 
cilled, and made off. The man in the exemplary shirt- 
collar and apron, who had planted himself before the 
chemist's window to procure an extra death-tinge from the 
light reflected from the blue bottle, packed up his linen and 



In the Streets. 3 

decamped, fearing lest his stock-in-trade — his virtue and 
his lucifers — might be injured by damp. The brass bands 
which had been playing outside the public-houses shouldered 
their instruments and went inside ; the vendors of second- 
hand books covered their openly-displayed stock with strips 
of baize and dismissed their watchful boys, conscious that 
no petty thief would risk the weather for so small a prey. 
The hot-potato men blew fiercer jets of steam out of their 
tin kitchens, as though calling on the public to defy dull 
care and comfort themselves with an antidote to the general 
wretchedness ; and the policemen stamped solemnly and 
slowly round their beats, as men impressed with the full 
knowledge that, as there was not the remotest chance of 
their being relieved from their miserable fate until the morn- 
ing, they might as well bear themselves with as much dignity 
as possible under the circumstances. 

It was bad everywhere ; but in no place at the ^ V>st-end 
of London was it so bad as at the .Regent Circus. There 
the great tide of humanity had been eDbing and flowing all 
day ; there hapless females in shoals had struggled across 
the roaring sea of Oxford Street, some conveyed by the 
crossing-sweeper, some drifting helplessly under the poles of 
omnibuses and the wheels of hansom cabs. There the 
umbrellas of the expectant omnibus-seekers jostled each 
other with extra virulence ; and there the edges of the pave- 
ments were thick with dark alluvial deposits kicked hither 
and thither by the feet of thousands. All day there had 
been a bustle and a roar round this spot ; and at ten o'clock 
at night it had but little diminished. Omnibus-conductors, 
like kites and vultures, clawed and wrangled over the bodies 
of their victims, who in a miserable little flock huddled 
together in a corner, and dashed out helplessly and without 
purpose as each lumbering vehicle drew up. Intermingled 
with these were several vagabond boys, whose animal spirits 
no amount of wet or misery could quell, and who constituted 
themselves a kind of vedette or outpost-guard, giving warning 
of the approach of the different omnibuses in much pleasantly 
familiar speech, " Now, guv'nor, for Bayswater ! Hatlas 
comin' up ! Ready now for Nottin' '111 ! " 

At the back of the little crowd, sheltering herself under 
the lee of the houses, stood a slight female figure, a mere 
slight slip of a girl, dressed only in a clinging gown and 

B a 



4 Land at Last. 

a miserable tightly-drawn shawl. Her worn bonnet was 
pulled over her face, her arms were clasped before her, and 
she stood in a doorway almost motionless. The policeman 
tramping leisurely by had at first imagined her to be an 
omnibus-passenger waiting for a vehicle ; but some twenty 
minutes after he had first noticed her, finding her still in the 
same position, he took advantage of a pretended trial of the 
security of various street-doors to scrutinise her appearance. 
To the man versed in such matters the miserable garb told 
its own tale — its wearer was a pauper; and a beggar the 
man in office surmised, although the girl had made no plaint, 
had uttered no word, had remained immovable and statue- 
like, gazing blankly before her. The policeman had been 
long enough in the force to know that the girl's presence in 
the doorway was an offence in the eyes of the law ; but he 
was a kindly-hearted Somersetshire man, and he performed 
his duty in as pleasant a way as he could, by gently pulling 
a corner of the drabbled shawl, and saying, " You musn't 
stand here, lass; you must move on, please." The shawl- 
wearer never looked up or spoke, but shivering slightly, 
stepped out into the dank mist, and floated, phantom-like, 
across the road. 

Gliding up the upper part of Regent Street, keeping 
close to the houses, and walking with her head bent down 
and her arms always folded tightly across her breast, she 
struck off into a bystreet to the right, and, crossing Oxford 
Market, seemed hesitating which way to turn. For an 
instant she stopped before the window of an eating-house, 
where thick columns of steam were yet playing round the 
attenuated remains of joints, or casting a greasy halo round 
slabs of pudding. As the girl gazed at these wretched 
remnants of a wretched feast, she raised her head, her eyes 
glistened, her pinched nostrils dilated, and for an instant 
her breath came thick and fast ; then, drawing her shawl more 
tightly round her, and bending her head to avoid as much 
as possible the rain, which came thickly scudding on the 
rising wind, she hurried on, and only stopped for shelter 
under the outstretched blind of a little chandler's shop — a 
wretched shelter, for the blind was soaked through, and the 
rain dripped from it in little pools, and the wind shook it 
in its frame, and eddied underneath it with a wet and gusty 
whirl ; but there was something of comfort to the girl in the 



In the Streets. 5 

warm look of the gaslit shop, &i the smug rotund appearance 
of the chandler, in the distant glimmer of the fire on the 
glazed door of the parlour at the back. Staring vacantly 
before him while mechanically patting a conical lump of lard, 
not unlike the bald cranium of an elderly gentleman, the 
chandler became aware of the girl's face at the window ; 
and seeing Want legibly inscribed by Nature's never-erring 
hand on every feature of that face, and being a humane 
man, he was groping in the till for some small coin to bestow 
in charity, when from the back room came a sharp shrill 
voice, " Jim, time to shut up !" and at the sound of the voice 
the chandler hastily retreated, and, a small boy suddenly 
appearing, pulled up the overhanging blind, and having lost 
its shelter, the girl set forth again. 

But her course was nearly at an end. To avoid a troop 
of boys who, arm-in-arm, came breasting up the street singing 
the burden of a negro-song, she turned off again into the 
main thoroughfare, and had barely gained the broad shadow 
of the sharp-steepled church in Langham Place, when she 
felt her legs sinking under her, her brain reeling, her heart 
throbbing in her breast like a ball of fire. She tottered and 
clung to the church-railing for support. In the next instant 
she was surrounded by a little crowd, in which she had a 
vision of painted faces and glistening silks, a dream of faint 
words of commiseration overborne by mocking laughter and 
ribald oaths, oaths made more fearful still by being uttered 
in foreign accents, of bitter jests and broad hints of drunken- 
ness and shame ; finally, of the strident voice of the police- 
man telling her again to " move on ! " The dead faintness, 
consequent on cold and wet and weariness and starvation, 
passed away for the time, and she obeyed the mandate. 
Passively she crept away a few steps up a deserted bystreet 
until her tormentors had left her quite alone ; then she sunk 
down, shivering, on a door-step, and burying her face in her 
tattered shawl, felt that her end was come. 

There she remained, the dead damp cold striking through 
her lower limbs and chilling them to stone, while her head 
was one blazing fire. Gradually her limbs became numbed 
and lost to all sensation, a sickening empty pain was round 
her heart, a dead apathy settling down over her mind and 
brain. The tramping of feet was close upon her, the noise 
of loud voices, the ringing shouts of loud lauehter, were in 



6 Land at Last. 

her ears j but she never raised her head from the tattered 
shawl, nor by speech or motion did she give the smallest 
sign of life. Men passed her constantly, all making for one 
goal, the portico next to that in which she had sunk down 
helpless — men with kindly hearts attuned to charity, who, 
had they known the state of the wretched wayfarer, would 
have exerted themselves bravely in her succour, but whom a 
London life had so inured to spectacles of casual misery and 
vice, that a few only cast a passing glance on the stricken 
woman and passed on. They came singly and in twos and 
threes ; but none spoke to her, none noticed her save by a 
glance and a shoulder shrug. 

Then, as the icy hands of Cold and Want gradually steal- 
ing over her seemed to settle round the region of her heart, 
the girl gave one low faint cry, " God help me ! it's come at 
last — God help me ! " and fell back in a dead swoon. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE BRETHREN OF THE BRUSH. 

THE house to which all the jovial fellows who passed 
the girl on the doorstep with such carelessness were 
wending their way was almost unique in the metropolis. 
The rumour ran that it had originally been designed for 
stables, and indeed there was a certain mews-ish appearance 
about its architectural elevation ; it had the squat, squabby, 
square look of those buildings from whose upper-floors 
clothes-lines stretch diagonally across stable-yards ; and you 
were at first surprised at finding an imposing portico with an 
imposing bell in a position where you looked for the folding- 
doors of a coach-house. Whether there had been any truth 
in the report or not, it is certain that the owner of the pro- 
perty speedily saw his way to more money than he could 
have gained by the ignoble pursuit of stabling horses, and 
made alterations in his building, which converted it into 
several sets of spacious, roomy, and comfortable, if not 
elegant chambers. The upper rooms were duly let, and 
speedily became famous — thus-wise. When Parmegiano 
Wilkins made his first great success with his picture of 
" Boadicea at Breakfast," — connoisseurs and art-critics will 



The Brethren of the Brush. 7 

recollect the marvellous manner in which the chip in the 
porridge of the Queen of the Iceni was rendered, — Mr. 
Caniche, the great picture-dealer, to whom Wilkins had 
mortgaged himself body and soul for three years, felt it 
necessary that his next works should be submitted to 
the private inspection of the newspaper-writers and the 
cognoscenti previous to their going into the Academy Ex- 
hibition. On receiving a letter to this effect from Caniche, 
Wilkins was at his wits' end. He was living, for privacy's 
sake, in a little cottage on the outskirts of Epping Forest, 
and having made a success, had naturally alienated all his 
friends whose rooms in town would otherwise have been 
available for the display of his pictures ; he thought — and 
there the astute picture-dealer agreed with him — that it 
would be unwise to send them to Caniche's shop (it was 
before such places were called " galleries "), as tending to 
make public the connection between them ; and Wilkins 
did not know what to do. Then Caniche came to his 
rescue. Little Jimmy Dabb, who had been Gold-Medallist 
and Travelling-Student at the Academy three years before- 
hand, and who, for sheer sake of bread-winning, had settled 
down as one of Caniche's Labourers, had a big studio in the 
stable-like edifice near Langham Church. In it he painted 
those bits of domestic life, — dying children on beds, weeping 
mothers, small table with cut-orange, Bible and physic by 
bedside, and pitying angel dimly hovering between mantel- 
piece and ceiling, — which, originally in oil, and subsequently 
in engravings, had such a vast sale, and brought so much 
ready money to Caniche's exchequer. The situation was 
central ; why not utilise it ? No sooner thought of than 
done : a red cotton-velvet coverlet was spread over Jimmy 
Dabb's bed in the corner ; a Dutch carpet, red with black 
flecks, was, at Caniche's expense, spread over the floor, 
paint-smeared and burnt with tobacco-ash ; two gorgeous 
easels, on which were displayed Wilkins' s two pictures, " The 
Bird in the Hand " — every feather in the bird and the dirt 
in the nails of the ploughboy's hand marvellously delineated 
— and " Crumbs of Comfort," each crumb separate, and the 
loaf in the background so real, that the Dowager-Countess 
of Rundall, a celebrated household manager, declared it at 
once to be a "slack-baked quartern." Invitation-cards, 
wonderfully illuminated in Old-English characters, and 



8 Land at Last. 

utterly illegible, were sent forth to rank, fashion, and talent, 
who duly attended. Crowds of gay carriages choked up the 
little street : Dabb in his Sunday-clothes did the honours ; 
Caniche, bland, smiling, and polyglot, flitted here and there, 
his clerk took down orders for proof copies, and the fortune 
of the chambers was made. They were so original, so 
artistic, so convenient, they were just the place for a painter. 
Smudge, R.A., who painted portraits of the aristocracy, who 
wore a velvet-coat, and whose name was seen in the tail-end 
of the list of fashionables at evening-parties, took a vacant 
set at once ; and Clement Walkinshaw of the Foreign Office, 
who passed such spare time as his country could afford him 
in illuminating missals, in preparing designs for stained glass, 
and in hanging about art-circles generally, secured the 
remainder of the upper-floor, and converted it into a Wardour- 
Street Paradise, with hanging velvet portieres, old oak 
cabinets, Venetian-glass, marqueterie tables, Sevres china, 
escutcheons of armour, and Viennese porcelain pipes. 

Meanwhile, utterly uncaring for and utterly independent 
of what went on upstairs, the denizens of the lower story 
kept quietly on. Who were the denizens of the lower 
story ? who but the well-known Titian Sketching-Club ! 
How many men, who, after struggling through Suffolk 
Street and the Portland Gallery, have won their way to fame 
and fortune, have made their coup d'essai on the walls of the 
chambers rented by the Titian Sketching-Club ! Outsiders, 
who professed great love for art, but who only knew the two 
or three exhibitions of the season, and only recognised the 
score of names in each vouchsafed for by the newspaper- 
critics, would have been astonished to learn the amount ot 
canvas covered, pains taken, and skill brought to bear upon 
the work of the Members of the Titian. There are guilds, and 
companies of Freemasons, and brotherhoods by the score in 
London ; but I know of none where the grand spirit of 
Camaraderie is so carried out as in this. It is the nearest 
thing to the Vie de Boheme of Paris of Henri Murger that we 
can show ; there is more liberty of speech and thought and 
action, less reticence, more friendship, — when friendship is 
understood by purse-sharing, by sick-bedside-watching, by 
absence of envy, jealousy, hatred, and all uncharitableness, — 
more singleness of purpose, more contempt for shams and im- 
postures and the dismal fetters of conventionality, than in 



The Brethren of the Brush. 9 

any other circle of English Society with which I am ac- 
quainted. 

It was a grand night with the Titians ; no model was 
carefully posed on the " throne " that evening ; no intelligent 
class was grouped round on the rising benches, copying 
from the " draped " or the " nude ; " none of the wardrobe 
or properties of the club (and it is rich in both), — none of 
the coats of mail or suits of armour, hauberks and broad- 
swords, buff boots, dinted breastplates, carved ebony cru- 
cifixes, ivory-hafted daggers, Louis-Onze caps, friars' gowns 
and rosaries, nor other portions of the stock-in-trade, were 
on view. The " sending-in " day for the approaching Ex- 
hibition of the British Institution was at hand ; and the dis- 
coloured smoky old walls of the Titians, the rickety easels 
piled round the room, all available ledges and nooks, were 
covered with the works of the members of the club, which 
they fully intended to submit for exhibition. A very Babel, 
in a thick fog of tobacco-smoke, through which loomed the 
red face of Flexor the famous model, like the sun in 
November, greeted you on your entrance. Flexor pretended 
to take the hats, but the visitors seemed to know him too 
well, and contented themselves with nodding at him in a 
friendly manner, and retaining their property. Then you 
passed into the rooms, where you found yourself wedged up 
amongst a crowd of perhaps the most extraordinary-looking 
beings you ever encountered. Little men with big heads 
and long beards, big men with bald heads and shaved 
cheeks, and enormous moustaches and glowering spectacles ; 
tall thin straggling men, who seemed all profile, and whose 
full face you could never catch ; dirty shaggy little men, 
with heads of hair like red mops, and no apparent faces 
underneath, whose eyes flashed through their elf-locks, and 
who were explaining their pictures with singular pantomimic 
power of their sinewy hands, and notably of their ever-flashing 
thumbs ; moon-faced solemn didactic men, prosing away on 
their views of art to dreary discontented listeners ; and 
foppish, smart little fellows, standing a-tiptoe to get particular 
lights, shading their eyes with their hands, and backing 
against the company generally. Moving here and there 
among the guests was the Titians' president, honest old Tom 
Wrigley, who had been " at it," as he used to say, for thirty 
years, without making any great mark in his profession, but 



i© Land at Last. 

who was cordially beloved for his kind-heartedness and 
bonhomie, and who had a word and a joke for all. As he 
elbowed his way through the room he spoke right and left. 

" Hallo, Tom Rogers ! — hallo, Tom ! That's an improve- 
ment, Tom, my boy ! Got rid of the heavy browns, eh ? 
weren't good, those heavy browns ; specially for a Venetian 
atmosphere, eh, Tom ? Much better, this. — How are you, 
Jukes ? Old story, Jukes ? — hen and chickens, ducks in the 
pond, horse looking over the gate ? Quite right, Jukes : 
stick to that, if it pays. Much better than the death of J. 
Csesar on a twenty-foot canvas, which nobody would be fool 
enough to buy. Stick to the ducks, Jukes, old fellow. — 
What's the matter, George ? Why so savage, my son?" 

" Here's Scumble !" said the young man addressed, in an 
undertone. 

"And what of that, George? Mr. Scumble is a Royal 
Academician, it is true ; and consequently a mark for your 
scorn and hatred, George. But it's not his fault ; he never 
did anything to aspire to such a dignity. It's your British 
public, George, which is such an insensate jackass as to buy 
Scumble's pictures, and to tell him he's a genius." 

" He was on the Hanging-Committee last year, and — " 

" Ah, so he was ; and your ' Aristides ' was kicked out, 
and so was" my ' Hope Deferred,' which was a deuced sight 
better than your big picture, Master George ; but see how 
I shall treat him. — How do you do, Mr. Scumble ? You're 
very welcome here, sir." 

Mr. Scumble, R.A., who had a head like a tin-loaf, and a 
face without any earthly expression, bowed his acknowledg- 
ments, and threw as much warmth into his manner as he 
possibly could, apparently labouring under a notion that he 
was marked out for speedy assassination. "This is indeed 
a char-ming collection ! Great talent among the ri-sing 
men, Mr. — pardon me — President ! This now, for instance, 
a most charming landscape !" 

"Yes, old boy; you may say that," said a square-built 
man smoking a clay-pipe, and leaning with his elbows on 
the easel on which the picture was placed. " I mean the 
real thing,-— not this ; which ain't bad though, is it ? Not 
that I should say so ; 'cause for why ; which I did it ! " and 
here the square-built man removed one of his elbows from 
the easel, and dug it into the sacred ribs of Scumble, R.A. 



The Brethren of the Brush. 1 1 

"Bad, sir ! " said Scumble, recoiling from the thrust, and still 
with the notion of a secret dagger hidden behind the square- 
built man's waistcoat; "it's magnificent, superb, Mr. — !" 

"Meaning me? Potts!" said the square-built man — 
"Charley Potts, artist, U.E., or unsuccessful exhibitor at 
every daub-sliow in London. That's the Via Mala, that is. 
I was there last autumn with Geoffrey Ludlow and Tom 
Bleistift. ' Show me a finer view than that,' I said to those 
fellows, when it burst upon us. ' If you'd a Scotchman with 
you,' said Tom, ' he'd say it wasn't so fine as the approach 
to Edinburgh.' 'Would he?' said I. 'If he said any- 
thing of that sort, I'd show him that view, and — and rub 
his nose in it !'" 

Mr. Scumble, R.A., smiled in a sickly manner, bowed 
feebly, and passed on. Old Tom Wrigley laughed a great 
boisterous " Ha, ha ! " and went on his way. Charley Potts 
remained before his picture, turning his back on it, and 
puffing out great volumes of smoke. He seemed to know 
everybody in the room, and to be known to and greeted by 
most of them. Some slapped him on the back, some poked 
him in the ribs, others laid their forefingers alongside their 
noses and winked ; but all called him " Charley," and all 
had some pleasant word for him ; and to all he had some- 
thing to say in return. 

" Hallo, Fred Snitterfield !" he called out to a fat man in 
a suit of shepherd's-plaid dittoes. " Halloa, Fred ! how's 
your brother Bill ? What's he been doing ? Not here to- 
night, of course ?" 

" No ; he wasn't very well," said the man addressed. 
" He's got—" 

" Yes, yes ; I know, Fred ! " said Charley Potts. " Wife 
won't let him ! That's it, isn't it, old boy ? He only dined 
out once in his life without leave, and then he sent home a 
telegram to say he was engaged ; and when his wife received 
the telegram she would not believe it, because she said it wasn't 
his handwriting ! Poor old Bill ! Did he sell that 'Revenge ' 
to what's-his-name — that Manchester man — Prebble?" 

" Lord, no ! Haven't you heard ? Prebble's smashed 
up. — all his property gone to the devil !" 

" Ah, then Prebble will find it again some day, no doubt. 
Look out ! here's Bowie ! " 

Mr. Bowie was the art-critic of a great daily journal. In 



12 Land at Last 

early life he had courted art himself; but lacking executive 
power, he had mixed up a few theories and quaint conceits 
which he had learned with a great deal of acrid bile, with 
which he had been gifted by nature, and wrote the most 
pungent and malevolent art-notices of the day. A tall, light- 
haired, vacant-looking man, like a light-house without any 
light in it, peering uncomfortably over his stiff white cravat, 
and fumbling nervously at his watch-chain. Clinging close 
to him, and pointing out to him various pictures as they 
passed them by, was quite another style of man, — Caniche, 
the great picture dealer, — an under-sized lively Gascon, 
black-bearded from his chin, round which it was closely cut, 
to his beady black eyes, faultlessly dressed, sparkling in 
speech, affable in manner, at home with all. 

"Ah, ah!" said he, stopping before the easel, "the Via 
Mala ! Not bad — not at all bad !" he continued, with 
scarcely a trace of a foreign accent. " Yours, Charley Potts ? 
yours, mon brave ? De-caidedly an improvement, Charley ! 
You go on that way, mai boy, and some day — " 

" Some day you 11 give me twenty pound, and sell me fol 
a hundred ! won't you, Caniche ? — generous buffalo ! " growled 
Charley, over his pipe. 

The men round laughed, but Caniche was not a bit 
offended. " Of course," he said, simply, " I will, indeed ; 
that is my trade ! And if you could find a man who would 
give you thirty, you would throw me over in what you call 
a brace of shakes ! N'est-ce pas ? Meanwhile, find the 
man to give you thirty. He is not here ; I mean coming 
now. — How do you do, Herr Stompff ?" 

Mr. Caniche (popularly known as Cannish among the 
artists) winced as he said this, for Herr Stompff was his great 
rival and bitterest enemy. 

A short, bald-headed, gray-bearded man was Mr. Stompff, 
— a Hamburger, — who, on his first arrival in England, had 
been an importer of piping bullfinches at Hull ; then a 
tobacconist in St. Mary Axe ; and who finally had taken up 
picture-selling, and did an enormous business. No one 
could tell that he was not an Englishman from his talk, and 
an Englishman with a marvellous fluency in the vernacular. 
He had every slang saying as soon as it was out, and by 
this used to triumph over his rival Caniche, who never could 
follow his phraseology. 



The Brethren of the Brush. 13 

"Hallo, Caniche!" he said; "how are you? What's 
up ? — running the rig on the boys here ! telling Charley 
Potts his daubs are first-rate ? Pickles ! — We know all that 
game, don't we, Charley ? What do you want for it, Charley? 
—How are you, Mr. Bowie? what's fresh with you, sir? 
Too proud to come and have a cut of mutton with me and 
Mrs. S. a-Sunday, I suppose ? Some good fellows coming, 
too ; Mugger from the Cracksideum, and Talboys and Sir 
Paul Potter' — leastways I've asked him. Well, Charley, 
what's the figure for this lot, eh?" 

" I'll trouble you not to ' Charley ' me, Mr. Stump, or 
whatever your infernal name is ! " said Potts, folding his arms 
and puffing out his smoke savagely. " I don't want any 
Havannah cigars, nor silk handkerchiefs, nor painted 
canaries, nor anything else in your line, sir ; and I want 
your confounded patronage least of all !" 

"Good boy, Charley ! very good boy !" said Stompff, calmly 
pulling his whisker through his teeth — " shouldn't lose his 
temper, though. Come and dine a-Sunday, Charley. Mr. 
Potts said something, which the historian is not bound to 
repeat, turned on his heel, and walked away. 

Mr. Stompff was not a bit disconcerted at this treatment. 
He merely stuck his tongue in his cheek, and looking at the 
men standing round, said, " He's on the high ropes, is 
Master Charley ! Some of you fellows have been lending 
him half-a-crown, or that fool Caniche has bought one of his 
pictures for seven-and-six ! Now, has anybody anything 
new to show, eh?" Of course everybody had something 
new to show to the great Stompff, the enterprising Stompff, 
the liberal Stompff, whose cheques were as good as notes oi 
the Bank of England. How they watched his progress, and 
how their hearts beat as he loitered before their works ! 
Jupp, who had a bed-ridden wife, a dear pretty little woman 
recovering from rheumatic fever at, Adalbert Villa, Elgiva 
Road, St. John's Wood; Smethurst, who had a 25/. bih 
coming due in a fortnight, and had three-and-sevenpence 
wherewith to meet it : Vogelstadt, who had been beguiled 
into leaving Diisseldorf for London on the rumours of English 
riches and English patronage, and whose capital studies of 
birds in the snow, and treibe-jagds, and boar-hunts, had called 
forth universal laudation, but had not as yet entrapped a 
single purchaser, so that Vogelstadt, who had >-ome down 



14 Land at Last. 

not discontentedly to living on bread-and-milk, had notions 
of mortgaging his ancestral thumb-ring to procure even those 
trifling necessaries, — how they all glared with expectation as 
the ex-singing-bird-importer passed their pictures in review ! 
That worthy took matters very easily, strolling along with 
his hands in his pockets, glancing at the easels and along 
the walls, occasionally nodding his head in approval, or 
shrugging his shoulders in depreciation, but never saying a 
word until he stopped opposite a well-placed figure-subject 
to which he devoted a two-minutes' close scrutiny, and then 
uttered this frank though tfr^ztf-tinged criticism, " That'll hit 
'em up ! that'll open their eyelids, by Jove ! Whose is it ?" 

The picture represented a modern ballroom, in a corner 
of which a man of middle age, his arms tightly folded across 
his breast, was intently watching the movements of a young 
girl, just starting off in a valse with a handsome dashing 
young partner. The expressions in the two faces were 
admirably defined : in the man's was a deep earnest devotion 
not unmingled with passion and with jealousy, his tightly- 
clenched mouth, his deep-set earnest eyes, settled in rapt 
adoration on the girl, showed the earnestness of his feeling, 
so did the rigidly-fixed arms, and the pose of the figure, 
which, originally careless, had become hardened and angular 
through intensity of feeling. The contrast was well marked ; 
in the girl's face, which was turned toward the man while 
her eyes were fixed on him, was a bright saucy triumph, 
brightening her eyes, inflating her little nostrils, curving the 
corners of her mouth, while her figure was light and airy, 
just obedient to the first notes of the valse, balancing itself 
as it were on the arm of her partner before starting off down 
the dance, All the accessories were admirable : the dreary 
wallflowers ranged round the room, the chaperons nid- 
nodding together on the rout-seats, paterfamilias despondingly 
consulting his watch, the wearied hostess, and the somno- 
lently-inclined musicians, — all were there, portrayed not 
merely by a facile hand but by a man conversant with 
society. The title of the picture, "Sic vos non vobis," was 
-.vritten on a bit of paper stuck into the frame, on the other 
corner of which was a card bearing the words " Mr. Geoffrey 
Ludlow." 

"Ah!" said Stompff, who, after carefully scanning the 
picture close and then from a distance, had read the card 



The Brethren of the Brush. 15 

— " at last ! Geoffrey Ludlow's going to fulfil the promise 
which he's been showing this ten years ! A late birth, but 
a fine babby now it's born ! That's the real thing and no 
flies ! That's about as near a good thing as I've seen this 
long time — that ; come, you'll say the same ! That's a good 
picture, Mr. Wrigley !" 

"Ah !" said old Tom, coming up at the moment, "you've 
made another lucky hit if you've bought that, Mr. Stompff ! 
Geoff is so confoundedly undecided, so horribly weak in all 
things, that he's been all this time making up his mind 
whether he really would paint a good picture or not. But 
he's decided at last, and he has painted a clipper." 

" Ye-es !" said Stompff, whose first enthusiasm had by no 
means died away — on the contrary, he thought so well of the 
picture that he had within himself determined to purchase it ; 
but his business caution was coming over him strongly. 
" Yes ! it's a clipper, as you say, Wrigley ; but it's a picture 
which would take all a fellow knew to work it. Throw that 
into the market— where are you ! Pouf ! gone ! no one 
thinking of it. Judicious advertisement, judicious squaring 
of those confounded fellows of the press ; a little dinner at 
the Albion or the Star and Garter to two or three whom we 
know ; and then the wonderful grasp of modern life, the 
singular manner in which the great natural feelings are ren- 
dered, the microscopic observation, and the power of detail — " 

"Yes, yes," said Tom Wrigley ; "for which, see Catalogue 
of Stompff s Gallery of Modem Painters, price 6d. Spare 
yourself, you unselfish encourager of talent, and spare Geoff's 
blushes ; for here he is. — Did you hear what Stompff was 
saying on, Geoff?" 

As he spoke, there came slouching up, shouldering his 
way through the crowd, a big, heavily-built man of about 
forty years of age, standing over six feet, and striking in 
appearance if not prepossessing. Striking in appearance 
from his height, which was even increased by his great shock 
head of dark-brown hair standing upright on his forehead, 
but curling in tight crisp waves round the back and poll of 
his head ; from his great prominent brown eyes, which, 
firmly set in their large thickly-carved lids, flashed from under 
an overhanging pair of brows; from his large heavy nose, thick 
and fleshy, yS_ with lithe sensitive nostrils; from his short 
upper and protruding thick under lip ; from the length of his 



r ^ Land at Last. 

chin and the massive heaviness of his jaw, though the heavy 
beard greatly concealed the formation of the lower portion of 
his face. A face which at once evoked attention, which no 
one passed by without noticing, which people at first called 
" odd," and " singular," and " queer," according to their 
vocabulary ; then, following the same rule, pronounced 
"ugly," or "hideous," or "grotesque," — allowing all the 
time that there "was something very curious in it." But a 
face which, when seen in animation or excitement, in reflex 
of the soul within, whose every thought was legibly portrayed 
in its every expression, in light or shade, with earnest 
watchful eyes, and knit brows and quivering nostrils and 
working lips ; or, on the other hand, with its mouth full of 
sound big white teeth gleaming between its ruddy lips, and 
its eyes sparkling with pure merriment or mischief ; — then a 
face to be preferred to all the dolly inanities of the House- 
hold Brigade, or even the matchless toga-draped dummies in 
Mr. Truefitt's window. This was Geoffrey Ludlow, whom 
everybody liked, but who was esteemed to be so weak and 
vacillating, so infirm of purpose, so incapable of succeeding 
in his art or in his life, as to have been always regarded as 
an object of pity rather than envy; as a man who was his 
own worst enemy, and of whom nothing could be said. He 
had apparently caught some words of the conversation, for 
when he arrived at the group a smile lit up his homely 
features, and his teeth glistened again in the gaslight. 

" What are you fellows joking about ?" he asked, while he 
roared with laughter, as if with an anticipatory relish of the 
fun. "Some chaff at my expense, eh? Something about 
my not having made up my mind to do something or not ; 
the usual nonsense, I suppose?" 

" Not at all Geoff," said Tom Wrigley. " The question 
asked by Mr. Stompff here was— whether you wished to sell 
this picture, and what you asked for it." 

" Ah ! " said Geoffrey Ludlow, his lips closing and the fun 
dying out of his eyes. "Well, you see it's of course a 
compliment for you, Mr. Stompff, to ask the question ; but 
I've scarcely made up my mind — whether — and indeed as to 
the price — " 

"Stuff, Geoff! What rubbish you talk!" said Charley 
Potts, who had rejoined the group. "You know well 
enough that you painted the picture for sale. You know 



The Brethren of the Brush. 1 7 

equally well that the price is two hundred guineas. Are you 
answered, Mr. Stump?" 

Ludlow started forward with a look of annoyance, but 
Stompff merely grinned, and said quietly, " I take it at the 
price, and as many more as Mr. Ludlow will paint of the 
same sort ; stock, lock, and barrel, I'll have the whole bilin'. 
Must change the title though, Ludlow, my boy. None of 
your Sic wos non thingummy ; none of your Hebrew classics 
for the British public. ' The Vow,' or ' The Last Farewell,' 
or something in that line. — Very neatly done of you, Charley, 
my boy; very neat bit of dealing, I call it. I ought to 
deduct four-and-nine from the next fifteen shillin' commission 
you get; but I'll make it up to you this way, — you've 
evidently all the qualities of a salesman ; come and be my 
clerk, and I'll stand thirty shillings a-week and a commission 
on the catalogues." 

Charley Potts was too delighted at his friend's success to 
feel annoyance at these remarks ; he merely shook his fist 
laughingly, and was passing on, with his arm through 
Ludlow's ; but the vivacious dealer, who had rapidly 
calculated where he could plant his newly-acquired purchase, 
and what percentage he could make on it, was not to be 
thus balked. 

"Look here!" said he; "a bargain's a bargain, ain't it? 
People say your word's as good as your bond, and all that, 
Pickles ! You drop down to my office to-morrow, Ludlow, 
and there'll be an agreement for you to sign — all straight 
and reg'lar, you know. And come and cut your mutton 
with me and Mrs. S. at Velasquez Villa, Nottin' '111, on 
Sunday, at six. No sayin' no, because I won't hear it. 
We'll wet our connection in a glass of Sham. And bring 
Charley with you, if his dress-coat ain't up ! You know, 
Charley ! Tar, Tar ! " And highly delighted with himself, 
and with the full conviction that he had rendered himself 
thoroughly delightful to his hearers, the great man waddled 
off to his brougham. 

Meanwhile the news of the purchase had spread through 
the rooms, and men were hurrying up on all sides to 
congratulate Ludlow on his success. The fortunate man 
seemed, however, a little dazed with his triumph ; he shook 
all the outstretched hands cordially, and said a few common- 
places of thanks, intermingled with doubts as to whether he 

c 



18 Land at Last. 

had not been too well treated; but on the first convenient 
opportunity he slipped away, and sliding a shilling into the 
palm of Flexor the model, who, being by this time very 
drunk, had arranged his hair in a curl on his forehead, and 
was sitting on the bench in the hall after his famous 
rendering of George the Fourth of blessed memory, Geoff 
seized his hat and coat and let himself out. The fresh 
night-air revived him wonderfully, and he was about starting 
off at his usual headstrong pace, when he heard a low dismal 
moan, and looking round, he saw a female figure cowering 
in a door-way. The next instant he was kneeling by her 
side. 



CHAPTER III. 

BLOTTED OUT. 

THE strange caprices of Fashion were never more 
strangely illustrated than by her fixing upon St. 
Barnabas Square as one of her favourite localities. There 
are men yet living among us whose mothers had been 
robbed on their way from Ranelagh in crossing the spot, 
then a dreary swampy marsh, on which now stands the city 
of palaces known as Cubittopolis. For years on years it 
remained in its dismal condition, until an enterprising 
builder, seeing the army of civilisation advancing with grand 
strides south-westward, and perceiving at a glance the 
immediate realisation of an enormous profit on his outlay, 
bought up the entire estate, had it thoroughly cleansed and 
drained, and proceeded to erect thereon a series of terraces, 
places, and squares, each vying with the other in size, 
perfection of finish, and, let it be said, general ghastliness. 
The houses in St. Barnabas Square resemble those in 
Chasuble Crescent, and scarcely differ in any particular from 
the eligible residences in Reredos Road: they are all very 
tall, and rather thin ; they have all enormous porticoes, over 
which are little conservatories, railed in with ecclesiastical 
ironwork; dismal little back-rooms no bigger than warm- 
baths, but described as "libraries" by the house-agents; 
gaunt drawing-rooms connected by an arch ; vast landings, 
leading on to other little conservatories, where " blacks," old 
flower-pots, and a few geranium stumps, are principally 



Blottat out. 



19 



conserved ; and a series of gaunt towny bedrooms. In front 
they have Mr. Swiveller's prospect, — a delightful view of 
over-the-way ; across the bit of square enclosure like a green 
pocket-handkerchief; while at the back they look imme- 
diately on to the back-premises of other eligible residences. 
The enterprising builder has done his best for his neighbour- 
hood, but he has been unable to neutralise the effects of the 
neighbouring Thames ; and the consequence is, that during 
the winter months a chronic fog drifts up from the pleasant 
Kentish marshes, and finding ample room and verge enough, 
settles permanently down in the St. Barnabas district ; while 
in the summer, the new roads which intersect the locality, 
being mostly composed of a chalky foundation, peel off 
under every passing wheel, and emit enormous clouds of 
dust, which are generally drifting on the summer wind into 
the eyes and mouths of stray passengers, and in at the doors 
and windows of regular residents. Yet this is one of 
Fashion's chosen spots ; here in this stronghold of stucco 
reside scores of those whose names and doings the courtly 
journalist delighteth to chronicle; hither do county magnates 
bring, to furnished houses, their wives and daughters, leaving 
them to entertain those of the proper set during the three 
summer months, while they, the county magnates themselves, 
are sleeping the sleep of the just on the benches of the 
House of Commons, or nobly discharging their duty to their 
country by smoking cigars on the terrace ; here reside men 
high up in the great West-end public offices, commissioners 
and secretaries, anxious to imbue themselves with the scent 
of the rose, and vivre pres (Telle, City magnates, judges of the 
land, and counsel learned in the law. The situation is near 
to Westminster for the lawyers and politicians'; and the 
address has quite enough of the true ring about it to make 
it much sought after by all those who go-in for a fashionable 
neighbourhood. 

A few hours before the events described in the preceding 
chapters took place, a brougham, perfectly appointed, and 
drawn by a splendid horse, came dashing through the fog 
and driving mist, and pulled up before one of the largest 
houses in St. Barnabas Square. The footman jumped from 
the box, and was running to the door, when, in obedience 
to a sharp voice, he stopped, and the occupant of the vehicle, 
who had descended, crossed the pavement with rapid strides, 

c 2 



20 Land at Last. 

and opened the door with a pass-key. He strode quickly 
through the hall, up the staircase, and into the drawing-room, 
round which he took a rapid glance. The room was empty; 
the gas was lit, and a fire burned brightly on the hearth; 
whjle an open piano, covered with music, on the one side ot 
the fireplace, and a book turned down with open leaves, 
showed that the occupants had but recently left. The new- 
comer, finding himself alone, walked to the mantelpiece, and 
leaning his back against it, passed his hands rapidly across 
his forehead ; then plunging both of them into his pockets, 
seemed lost in thought. The gaslight showed him to be a 
man of about sixty years of age, tall, wiry, well-proportioned ; 
his head was bald, with a fringe of grayish hair, his forehead 
broad, his eyes deep-set, his mouth thin-lipped, and ascetic 
he wore two little strips of whisker, but his chin was closely 
shaved. He was dressed in high stiff shirt-collars, a blue- 
silk neckerchief with white dots, in which gleamed a 
carbuncle pin ; a gray overcoat, under which was a cutaway 
riding-coat, high waistcoat with onyx buttons, and tight- 
fitting cord-trousers. This was George Brakespere, third 
Earl Beauport, of whom and of whose family it behoves one 
to speak in detail. 

They were novi homines, the Brakesperes, though they 
always claimed to be sprung from ancient Norman blood. 
Only seventy years ago old Martin Brakespere was a wool- 
stapler in Uttoxeter ; and though highly respected for the 
wealth he was reported to have amassed, was very much jeered 
at privately, and with bated breath, for keeping an apocry- 
phal genealogical tree hanging up in his back-shop, and for 
invariably boasting, after his second glass of grog at the 
Greyhound, about his lineage. But when, after old Martin 
had been some score years quietly resting in Uttoxeter 
churchyard, his son Sir Richard Brakespere," who had been 
successively solicitor and attorney general, was raised to the 
peerage, and took his seat on the woolsack as Baron 
Beauport, Lord High Chancellor of England, the Herald's 
College, and all the rest of the genealogical authorities, said 
that the line was thoroughly made out and received the 
revival of the ancient title with the greatest laudation. A 
wiry, fox-headed, thin chip of a lawyer, the first Baron 
Beauport, as knowing as a ferret, and not unlike one in the 
face. He administered the laws of his country very well 



Blotted out. 21 

and he lent some of the money he had inherited from his 
father to the sovereign of his country and the first gentleman 
in Europe at a very high rate of interest, it is said. Rumour 
reports that he did not get all his money back again, taking 
instead thereof an increase in rank, and dying, at an 
advanced age, as Earl Beauport, succeeded in his title and 
estates by his only son, Theodore Brakespere, by courtesy 
Viscount Caterham. 

When his father died, Lord Caterham, the second Earl 
Beauport, was nearly fifty years old, a prim little gentleman 
who loved music and wore a wig ; a dried-up chip of a little 
man, who lived in a little house in Hans Place with an old 
servant, a big violoncello, and a special and peculiar breed 
of pug-dogs. To walk out with the pug-dogs in the morning, 
to be carefully dressed and tittivated and buckled and curled 
by the old servant in the afternoon, and either to play the 
violoncello in a Beethoven or Mozart selection with some 
other old amateur fogies, or to be present at a performance 
of chamber-music, or philharmonics, or oratorio-rehearsals 
in the evening, constituted the sole pleasure of the second 
Earl Beauport s life. He never married ; and at his death 
some fifteen years after his father's, the title and, with the 
exception of a few legacies to musical charities, the estates 
passed to his cousin George Brakespere, Fellow of Lincoln 
College, Oxon, and then of Little Milman Street, Bedford 
Row, and the Northern Circuit, briefless barrister. 

Just in the very nick of time came the peerage and the 
estates to George Brakespere, for he was surrounded by 
duns, and over head and ears in love. With all his hard 
work at Oxford, and he had worked hard, he had the 
reputation of being the best bowler at Bullingdon, and the 
hardest rider after hounds ; of having the best old port and 
the finest cigars (it was before the days of claret and short 
pipes), and the best old oak furniture, library of books, and 
before-letter proofs in the University. All these could not 
be paid for out of an undergraduate's income ; and the large 
remainder of unpaid bills hung round him and plagued him 
heavily long after he had left Oxford and been called to the 
bar. It was horribly up-hill work getting a connection 
among the attorneys; he tried writing for reviews, and 
succeeded, but earned very little money. And then, on 
circuit, at an assize-ball, he fell in love with Gertrude 



S2 Land at Last. 

Carrington, a haughty county beauty, only daughter of Sil 
Joshua Carrington, Chairman of Quarter Sessions ; and that 
nearly finished him. Gertrude Carrington was very haughty 
and very wilful ; she admired the clever face and the bold 
bearing of the young barrister; but in all probability she 
would have thought no more of him, had not the eminent 
Sir Joshua, who kept his eyes very sharply about him, 
marked the flirtation, and immediately expressed his total 
disapproval of it. That was 'enough for Gertrude, and she 
at once went in for George Brakespere, heart and soul. She 
made no objection to a clandestine correspondence, and 
responded regularly and warmly to George's passionate 
letters. She gave him two or three secret meetings under 
an old oak in a secluded part of her father's park, — 
Homershams was a five-hours' journey from town, — and 
these assignations always involved George's sleeping at an 
inn, and put him to large expense ; and when she came up 
to stay with her cousins in town, she let him know all the 
parties to which they were going, and rendered him a 
mendicant for invitations. When the change of fortune 
came, and George succeeded to the title, Sir Joshua 
succumbed at once, and became anxious for the match. 
Had George inherited money only, it is probable that from 
sheer wilfulness Gertrude would have thrown him over ; but 
the notion of being a countess, of taking precedence and pas 
of all the neighbouring gentry, had its influence, and they 
were married. Two sons were born to them, — Viscount 
Caterham and the Hon. Lionel Brakespere, — and a daughter, 
who only survived her birth a few weeks. As Earl Beauport, 
George Brakespere retained the energy and activity of mind 
and body, the love of exercise and field-sports, the clear 
brain and singleness of purpose, which had distinguished 
him as a commoner : but there was a skeleton in his house, 
whose bony fingers touched his heart in his gayest moments, 
numbed his energies, and warped his usefulness; whose 
dread presence he could not escape from, whose chilling 
influence nor wine, nor work, nor medicine, nor gaiety, could 
palliate. It was ever present in a tangible shape ; he knew 
his weakness and wickedness in permitting it to conquer 
him, — he strove against it, but vainly ; and in the dead 
watches of the night often he lay broad awake railing against 
the fate which had mingled so bitter an ingredient in his cup 



Blotted out. 23 

The door swung open and the Countess entered, a woman 
nearly fifty now, but not looking her age by at least eight 
years. A tall handsome woman, with the charms of her 
former beauty mellowed but not impaired ; the face was 
more full, but the firm chiselling of the nose and lips, the 
brightness of the eyes, the luxurious dark gloss of the hair, 
were there still. As she entered, her husband advanced to 
meet her ; and as he touched her forehead with his lips, she 
laid her hand on his, and asked " What news ?" 

He shook his head sadly, and said, " The worst." 

"The worst !" she repeated, faintly; "he's not dead? 
Beauport, you— you would not say it in that way — he's not 
dead ?" 

"I wish to God he were!" said Lord Beauport through 
his teeth. " I wish it had pleased God to take him years 
and years ago ! No ! he's not dead." Then throwing him- 
self into a chair, and staring vacantly at the fire, he repeated, 
" I wish to God he were !" 

"Anything but that !" said the Countess, with a sense of 
immense relief; "anything but that! whatever he has done 
may be atoned for, and repented, and — But what has he 
done ? where is he ? have you seen Mr. Farquhar?" 

" I have — and I know all. Gertrude, Lionel is a scoundrel 
and a criminal — no, don't interrupt me ! I myself have 
prosecuted and transported men for less crimes than he has 
committed ; years ago he would have been hanged. He is 
a forger !" 

"A forger!" 

" He has forged the names of two of his friends — old 
brother officers; Lord Hinchenbrook is one, and young 
Latham the other — to bills for five thousand pounds. I've 
had the bills in my hands, and seen letters from the men 
denying their signatures to-night, and — " 

" But Lionel — where is he ? in prison ?" 

" No ; he saw the crash coming, and fled from it. Far- 
quhar showed me a blotted letter from him, written from 
Liverpool, saying in a few lines that he had disgraced us all, 
chat he was on the point of sailing under a feigned name for 
Australia, and that we should never see him again." 

" Never see him again ! my boy, my own darling boy !" 
and Lady Beauport burst into an agony of tears. 

" Gertrude," said her husband, when the first wild storm 
of grief had subsided, " calm yourself for one instant." 



24 Land at Last. 

He rang the bell, and to the servant answering it, said : 

" Tell Lord Caterham I wish to speak to him, and beg 
Miss Maurice to be good enough to step here." 

Lady Beauport was about to speak, but the Earl said 
coldly : 

" I wish it, if you please ;" and reiterated his commands 
to the servant, who left the room. " I have fully decided, 
Gertrude, on the step I am about to take. To-morrow 
those forged bills will be mine. I saw young Latham at 
Farquhar's, and he said — " Lord Beauport's voice shook 
here — " said everything that was kind and noble ; and 
Hinchenbrook has said the same to Farquhar. It — it 
cannot be kept quiet, of course. Every club is probably 
ringing with it now ; but they will let me have the bills. 
And from this moment, Gertrude, that boy's name must 
never be uttered, save in our prayers — in our prayers for his 
forgiveness and — and repentance — by you, his mother ; by 
me his father, — nor by any one in this house. He is dead 
to us for ever ! " 

" Beauport, for Heaven's sake — " 

" I swear it, Gertrude, I swear it ! and most solemnly will 
keep the oath. I have sent for Caterham, who must know, 
of course ; his good sense will approve what I have done ; 
and for Annie, she is part of our household now, and must 
be told. Dead to us all henceforth ; dead to us all ! " 

He sank into a chair opposite the fire and buried his face 
in his hands, but roused himself at advancing footsteps. 
The door opened, and a servant entered, pushing before 
him a library-chair fitted on large wheels, in which sat a man 
of about thirty, of slight spare frame, with long arms and 
thin womanly hands — a delicately-handsome man, with a 
small head, soft grey eyes, and an almost feminine mouth ; 
a man whom Nature had intended for an Apollo, whom 
fortune had marked for her sport, blighting his childhood with 
some mysterious disease for which the doctors could find 
neither name nor cure, sapping his marrow and causing his 
legs to wither into the shrunken and useless members which 
now hung loosely before him utterly without strength, almost 
without shape, incapable of bearing his weight, and rendering 
him maimed, crippled, blasted for life. This was Viscount 
Caterham, Earl Beauport's eldest son, and heir to his title 
and estates. His father cast one short, rapid glance at him 



Bloildi out. 2 5 

as he entered, and then turned to the person who immediately 
followed him. 

This was a tall girl of two-and-twenty, of rounded form 
and winning expression. Her features were by no means 
regular ; her eyes were brown and sleepy ; she had a pert 
inquisitive nose ; and when she smiled, in her decidedly 
large mouth gleamed two rows of strong white teeth. Her 
dark-brown hair was simply and precisely arranged ; for she 
had but a humble opinion of her own charms, and objected 
to any appearance of coquetry. She was dressed in a tight- 
fitting black silk, with linen collar and cuffs, and her hands 
and feet were small and perfectly shaped. Darling Annie 
Maurice, orphan daughter of a second cousin of my lord's, 
transplanted from a suburban curacy to be companion and 
humble friend of my lady, the one bright bit of sunshine 
and reality in that palace of ghastly stucco and sham. Even 
now, as she came in, Lord Beauport seemed to feel the 
cheering influence of he/ presence, and his brow relaxed for 
an instant as he stepped forward and offered his hand ; 
after taking which, she, ^7ith a bow to the Countess, glided 
round and stood by Lord Caterham's chair. 

Lord Caterham was the first to speak. 

" You sent for us — for Annie and me, sir," he said in a 
low tremulous voice ; " I itust you have no bad news of 
Lionel." 

Lady Beauport hid her face in her hands ; but the Earl, 
who had resumed his position against the mantelpiece, spoke 
firmly. 

" I sent for you, Catexlam, and for you, Annie, as 
members of my family, to tell you that Lionel Brakespere's 
name must never more be mcationed in this house. He has 
disgraced himself, and us through him; and though we 
cannot wipe away that disgrace, we must strive as far as 
possible to blot him out from our memories and our lives. 
You know, both of you, — at least you, Caterham, know 
well enough, — what he has been to me — the love I had for 
him — the — yes, my God, the pride I had in him !" 

His voice broke here, and he passed his hand across his 
eyes. In the momentary pause Annie Maurice glanced up 
at Lord Caterham, and marked his face distorted as with 
pain, and his head reclining on his chest. Then, gulping 
down the knot rising in his throat, the Earl continued : 



26 Land at Last, 

" All that is over now ; he has left the country, and the 
chances are that we shall never see nor even hear from him 
again." A moan from the Countess shook his voice for a 
second, but he proceeded : " It was to tell you this that I 
sent for you. You and I, Caterham, will have to enter 
upon this subject once more to-morrow, when some business 
arrangements have to be made. On all other occasions, 
recollect, it is tabooed. Let his name be blotted out from 
our memories, and let him be as if he had never lived." 

As Earl Beauport ceased speaking he gathered himself to- 
gether and walked towards the door, never trusting himself 
to look for an instant towards where his wife sat cowering in 
grief, lest his firmness should desert him. Down the stairs 
he went, until entering his library he shut the door behind 
him, locked it, and throwing himself into his chair, leant 
his head on the desk, and covering it with his hands gave 
way to a passion of sobs which shook his strong frame as 
though he were convulsed. Then rising, he went to the 
book-case, and taking out a large volume, opened it, and 
turned to the page immediately succeeding the cover. It 
was a big old-fashioned Bible, bound in calf, with a hideous 
ancient woodcut as a frontispiece representing the Adoration 
of the Wise Men ; but the page to which Lord Beauport 
turned, yellow with age, was inscribed in various-coloured 
inks, many dim and faded, with the names of the old 
Brakespere family, and the dates of their births, marriages, 
and deaths. Old Martin Brakespere's headed the list; 
then came his son's, with " created Baron Beauport " in the 
lawyer's own skimpy little hand, in which also was entered 
the name of the musical-amateur peer, his son ; then came 
George Brakespere's bold entry of his own name and his 
wife's, and of the names of their two sons. Over the last 
entry Lord Beauport paused for a few minutes, glaring at it 
with eyes which did not see it, but which had before them 
a chubby child, a bright handsome Eton boy, a dashing 
guardsman, a "swell" loved and petted by all, a fugitive 
skulking in an assumed name in the cabin of a sea-tossed 
ship ; then he took up a pen and ran it through the entry 
backwards and forwards until the name was completely 
blotted out ; and then he fell again into his train of thought. 
The family dinner-hour was long since passed ; the table 
was laid, all was ready, and the French cook and the grave 



On the Door-step. 27 

butler were in despair : but Lord Beauport still sat alone 
in his library with old Martin Brakespere's Bible open 
before him. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ON THE DOOR-STEP. 

IT is cheap philosophy to moralise on the importance of 
events led up to by the merest trifles ; but the subject 
comes so frequently before us as to furnish innumerable 
pegs whereon the week-day preacher may hang up his little 
garland of reflections, his little wreath of homely truisms. 
If Ned Waldron had not been crossing into the Park at the 
exact moment when the shortsighted Godalming banker 
was knocked down by the hansom at the Corner, he would 
have still been enjoying eighty pounds a-year as a temporary 
extra-clerk at Whitehall, instead of groaning over the 
villanous extortion of the malt-tax, as a landed proprietor of 
some thousands of inherited acres. If Dr. Weston's red- 
lamp over the surgery-door had been blown out when the 
servant rushed off for medical advice for Master Percy 
Buckmaster's ear-ache, the eminent apothecary would never 
have had the chance of which he so skilfully availed himself 
— of paying dutiful attention to Mrs. Buckmaster, and finally 
stepping into the shoes of her late husband, the wealthy 
Indian indigo-planter. 

If Geoffrey Ludlow, dashing impetuously onward in his 
career, had not heard that long low heart-breaking moan, 
he might have gone on leading his easy, shiftless, drifting 
life, with no break greater than the excitement consequent 
on the sale of a picture or the accomplishment of a resolu- 
tion. But he did hear it, and, rare thing in him, acting at 
once on his first impulse, he dropped on his knees just 
in time to catch the fainting form in his outstretched arms. 
That same instant he would have shrunk back if he could ; 
but it was too late; that same instant there came across 
him a horrible feeling of the ludicrousness of his position : 
there at midnight in a London thoroughfare holding in his 
arms — what ! a drunken tramp, perhaps ; a vagrant well 
known to the Mendicity Society; a gin-sodden street- 
walker, who might requite his good Samaritanism with a 



28 Land at Last. 

leer and a laugh, or an oath and a blow. And yet the groan 
seemed to come from the lowest depths of a wrung and 
suffering heart ; and the appearance — no, there could be 
no mistake about that. That thin, almost emaciated, figure , 
those pinched features ; drawn, haggard, colourless cheeks ; 
that brow, half hidden by the thick, damp, matted hair, 
yet in its deep lines and indentations revealing the bitter 
workings of the mind ; the small thin bony hands now 
hanging flaccid and motionless — all these, if there were any- 
thing real in this life, were outward semblances such as 
mere imposters could not have brought forward in the way 
of trade. 

Not one of them was lost on Geoffrey Ludlow, who, 
leaning over the prostrate figure, narrowly scanned its 
every feature, bent his face towards the mouth, placed his 
hands on the heart, and then, thoroughly alarmed, looked 
round and called for aid. Perhaps his excitement had 
something to do with it, but Geoff's voice fell flat and limp 
on the thick damp air, and there was no response, though 
he shouted again and again. But presently the door 
whence he had issued opened widely, and in the midst 
of a gush of tobacco smoke a man came out, humming 
a song, twirling a stick, and striding down the street. Again 
Geoffrey Ludlow shouted, and this time with success, for 
the new-comer stopped suddenly, took his pipe from his 
mouth, and turning his head towards the spot whence the 
voice proceeded, he called out, simply but earnestly, " Hallo 
there ! what's the row ? " 

Ludlow recognised the speaker at once. It was Charley 
Potts, and Geoffrey hailed him by name. 

"All right!" said Charley in return. "You've picked 
up my name fast enough, my pippin ; but that don't go far. 
Better known than trusted is your obedient servant, C. P. 
Hallo, Geoff, old man, is it you ? Why, what the deuce 
have you got there ? an 'omeless poor, that won't move on, 

or a By George, Geoff, this is a bad case!" He 

had leant over the girl's prostrate body, and had rapidly 
felt her pulse and listened at her heart. " This woman's 
dying of inanition and prostration. I know it, for I was 
in the red-bottle and Plaster-of-Paris-horse line before I 
went in for Art. She must be looked to at once, or she'll 
slip off the hooks while we're standing by her. You hold 



Oti the Door-si cp. 29 

on here, old man, while I run back and fetch the brandy 
out of Dabb's room ; I know where he keeps it. Chafe 
her hands, will you, Geoff? I shan't be a second." 

Charley Potts rushed off, and left Geoffrey still kneeling 
by the girl's side. In obedience to his friend's instructions, 
he began mechanically to chafe her thin worn hands ; but 
as he rubbed his own over them to and fro, to and fro, he 
peered into her face, and wondered dreamily what kind 
of eyes were hidden behind the drooped lids, and what 
was the colour of the hair hanging in dank thick masses 
over the pallid brow. Even now there began to spring in 
his mind a feeling of wonder not unmixed with alarm, as to 
what would be thought of him, were he discovered in his 
then position; whether his motives would be rightly con- 
strued ; whether he were not acting somewhat indiscreetly 
in so far committing himself : for Geoffrey Ludlow had been 
brought up in the strict school of dire respectability, where 
a lively terror of rendering yourself liable to Mrs. Grundy's 
remarks is amongst the doctrines most religiously inculcated, 
But a glance at the form before him gave him fresh assurance, 
and when Charley Potts returned he found his friend rubbing 
away with all his energy. 

" Here it is," said Charley ; " Dabb's particular. I 
know it's first-rate, for Dabb only keeps it medicinally, 
taking Sir Felix Booth Bart, as his ordinary tipple. I know 
this water-of-life-of-cognac of old, sir, and always have in- 
ternal qualms of conscience when I go to see Dabb, which 
will not be allayed until I have had what Caniche calls a 
suspicion. Hold her head for a second, Geoff, while I put 
the flask to her mouth. There ! Once more, Geoff. Ah ! 
I thought so. Her pulse is moving now, old fellow, and 
she'll rouse in a bit ; but it was very nearly a case of Walker." 

" Look at her eyes — they're unclosing." 

" Not much wonder in that, is there, my boy ? though it 
is odd, perhaps. A glass of brandy has made many people 
shut their eyes before now ; but as to opening them — Hallo ! 
steady there !" 

He said this as the girl, her eyes glaring straight before 
her, attempted to raise herself into an erect position, but 
after a faint struggle dropped back, exclaiming feebly : 

" I cannot, I cannot." 

" Of course you can't, my dear," said Charley Potts, not 



30 Land at Last 

unkindly; "of course you can't. You musn't think of attempt- 
ing it either. I say, Geoff," — (this was said in a lower tone) 
— " look out for the policeman when he comes round, and give 
him a hail. Our young friend here must be looked after at 
once, and he'd better take her in a cab to the workhouse." 

As he said the last words, Geoffrey Ludlow felt the girl's 
hand which he held thrill between his, and, bending down, 
thought he saw her lips move. 

" What's the matter ?" said Charley Potts. 

" It's very strange," replied Geoffrey ; " I could swear I 
heard her say ' Not there ! ' and yet — " 

" Likely enough been there before, and knows the treat- 
ment. However, we must get her off at once, or she'll go 
to grief; so let us — " 

" Look here, Charley : I don't like the notion of this 
woman's going to a workhouse, specially as she seems to — 
object, eh ? Couldn't we — isn't there any one where we 
could — where she could lodge for a night or two, until — the 
doctor, you know — one might see ? Confound it all, 
Charley, you know I never can explain exactly ; can't you 
help me, eh ?" 

"What a stammering old idiot it is !" said Charley Potts, 
laughing. "Yes, I see what you mean — there's Flexor's 
wife lives close by, in Little Flotsam Street — keeps a 
lodging-house. If she's not full, this young party can go in 
there. She's all right now so far as stepping it is concerned, 
but she'll want a deal of looking after yet. O, by Jove ! I 
left Rollit in at the Titians, the army-doctor, you know, who 
sketches so well. Let's get her into Flexor's, and I'll fetch 
Rollit to look at her. Easy now ! Up ! " 

They raised her to her feet, and half-supported, half- 
carried her round the church and across the broad road, 
and down a little bystreet on the other side. There Charley 
Potts stopped at a door, and knocking at it, was soon con- 
fronted by a buxom middle-aged woman, who started with 
surprise at seeing the group. 

"Lor, Mr. Potts! what can have brought you 'ere, sir? 
Flexor's not come in, sir, yet — at them nasty Titiums, he is, 
and joy go with him. If you're wanting him, sir, you'd 
better — " 

" No, Mrs. flexor, we don't want your husband just now. 
Here's Mr. Ludlow, who — " 



On t/ie Door-step. 3 1 

" Lord, and so it is ! but seeing nothing but the nape ol 
your neck, sir, I did not recognise — " 

" All right, Mrs. Flexor," said Geoffrey ; " we want to 
know if your house is full. If not, here is a poor woman 
for whom we — at least Mr. Potts — and I myself, for the 
matter of that — " 

" Stuttering again, Geoff ! What stuff ! Here, Mrs. Flexor, 
we want a room for this young woman to sleep in ; and 
just help us in with her at once into your parlour, will you ? 
and let us put her down there while I run round for the 
doctor." 

It is probable that Mrs. Flexor might have raised objections 
to this proposition ; but Charley Potts was a favourite with 
her, and Geoffrey Ludlow was a certain source of income to 
her husband ; so she stepped back while the men caught up 
their burden, who all this time had been resting, half-fainting, 
on Geoffrey's shoulder, and carried her into the parlour. 
Here they placed her in a big, frayed, ragged easy-chair, 
with all its cushion-stuffing gone, and palpable bits of shaggy 
wool peering through its arms and back ; and after dragging 
this in front of the expiring fire, and bidding Mrs. Flexor 
at once prepare some hot gruel, Charley Potts rushed away 
to catch Dr. Rollit. 

And now Geoffrey Ludlow, left to himself once more (for 
the girl was lying back in the chair, still with unclosing eyes, 
and had apparently relapsed into a state of stupor), began 
to turn the events of the past hour in his mind, and to 
wonder very much at the position in which he found himself. 
Here he was in a room in a house which he had never 
before entered, shut up with a girl of whose name or con- 
dition he was as yet entirely ignorant, of whose very exist- 
ence he had only just known ; he, who had always shirked 
anything which afforded the smallest chance of adventure, 
was actually taking part in a romance. And yet — nonsense ! 
here was a starving wanderer, whom he and his friend had 
rescued from the street ; an ordinary every-day case, familial 
in a thousand phases to the relieving-officers and the poor- 
law guardians, who, after her certain allowance of warmth, 
and food, and physic, would start off to go — no matter 
where, and do — no matter what. And yet he certainly had 
not been deceived in thinking of her faint protest when 
Charley proposed to send her to the workhouse. She had 



3 2 Land at Last. 

spoken then ; and though the words were so few and the 
tone so low, there was something in the latter which sug- 
gested education and refinement. Her hands too, her poor 
thin hands, were long and well-shaped, with tapering ringers 
and filbert-nails, and bore no traces of hard work : and 
her face — ah, he should be better able to see her face now. 

He turned, and taking the flaring candle from the table, 
held it above her head. Her eyes were still closed ; but as 
he moved, they opened wide, and fixed themselves on him. 
Such large, deep-violet eyes, with long sweeping lashes ! 
such a long, solemn, stedfast gaze, in which his own eyes 
were caught fast, and remained motionless. Then on to 
his hand, leaning on the arm of the chair, came the cold 
clammy pressure of feeble fingers ; and in his ear, bent and 
listening, as he saw a fluttering motion of her lips, murmured 
very feebly the words, "Bless you! — saved me!" twice re- 
peated. As her breath fanned his cheek, Geoffrey Ludlow's 
heart beat fast and audibly, his hand shook beneath the 
light touch of the lithe fingers ; but the next instant the 
eyelids dropped, the touch relaxed, and a tremulousness 
seized on the ashy lips. Geoffrey glanced at her for an 
instant, and was rushing in alarm to the door, when it 
opened, and Charley Potts entered, followed by a tall grave 
man, in a long black beard, whom Potts introduced as 
Dr. Rollit. 

" You're just in time," said Geoffrey ; " I was just going to 
call for help. She — " 

"Pardon me, please," said the doctor, calmly pushing 
him on one side. " Permit me to — ah !" he continued, after a 
glance — "I must trouble you to leave the room, Potts, 
please, and take your friend with you. And just send 
the woman of the house to me, will you ? There is a 
woman, I suppose?" 

" O yes, there is a woman, of course. — Here, Mrs. Flexor, 
just step up, will you ? — Now, Geoff, what are you staring 
at, man ? Do you think the doctor's going to eat the girl ? 
Come on, old fellow ; we'll sit on the kitchen-stairs, and 
catch blackbeetles to pass the time. Come on !" 

Geoff roused himself at his friend's touch, and went with 
him, but in a dreamy sullen manner. When they got into 
the passage, he remained with outstretched ear, listening 
eagerly ; and when Charley spoke, he savagely bade him 



On ffie Door-step. 3 1 

nold his tongue. Mr. Potts was so utterly astonished at 
this conduct, that he continued staring and motionless, and 
merely gave vent to his feelings in one short low whistle. 
When the door was opened, Geoffrey Ludlow strode down 
the passage at once, and confronting the doctor, asked him 
what news. Dr. Rollit looked his questioner steadily in the 
eyes for a moment ; and when he spoke his tone was softer, 
his manner less abrupt than before. " There is no special 
danger, Mr. Ludlow," said he ; " though the girl has had a 
narrow escape. She has been fighting with cold and want 
of proper nourishment for days, so far as I can tell." 

"Did she say so?" 

"She said nothing; she has not spoken a word." Dr. 
Rollit did not fail to notice that here Geoffrey Ludlow gave 
a sigh of relief. " I but judge from her appearance and 
symptoms. I have told this good person what to do ; and 
I will look round early in the morning. I live close by. 
Now, good-night." 

"You are sure as to the absence of danger ?" 

" Certain." 

"Good-night; a thousand thanks! — Mrs. Flexor, mind 
that your patient has every thing wanted, and that I settle 
with you. — Now, Charley, come ; what are you waiting for ?" 

"Eh?" said Charley. "Well, I thought that, after this 
little excitement, perhaps a glass out of that black bottle 
which I know Mrs. Flexor keeps on the second shelf in the 
right-hand cupboard — " 

"Get along with you, Mr. Potts!" said Mrs. Flexor, 
grinning. 

"You know you do, Mrs. F. — a glass of that might cheer 
and not inebriate. — What do you say, Geoff?" 

" I say no ! You've had quite enough ; and all Mrs. 
Flexor's attention is required elsewhere. — Good-night, Mrs. 
Flexor; and" — by this time they were in the street — "good- 
night, Charley." 

Mr. Potts, engaged in extracting a short-pipe from the 
breast-pocket of his pea-jacket, looked up with an abstracted 
air, and said, " I beg your pardon." 

"Good-night, Charley." 

"Oh, certainly, if you wish it. Good-night, Geoffrey 
Ludlow, Esquire ; and permit me to add, Hey no nonny ! 
Not a very lucid remark, perhaps, but one which exactly 

D 



34 Land at Last. 

illustrates my state of mind." And Charley Potts filled his 
pipe, lit it, and remained leaning against the wall, and 
smoking with much deliberation until his friend was out of 
sight. 

Geoffrey Ludlow strode down the street, the pavement 
ringing under his firm tread, his head erect, his step elastic, 
his whole bearing sensibly different even to himself. As he 
swung along he tried to examine himself as to what was the 
cause of his sudden light-heartedness ; and at first he 
ascribed it to the sale of his picture, and to the warm 
promises of support he had received at the hands of Mr. 
Stompff. But these, though a few hours since they had 
really afforded him the greatest delight, now paled before 
the transient glance of two deep-violet eyes, and the scarcely- 
heard murmur of a feeble voice. ' ' ' Bless you ! — saved me ! ' 
that's what she said ! " exclaimed Geoff, halting for a second 
and reflecting. "And then the touch of her hand, and the 
— ah ! Charley was right ! Hey no nonny is the only 
language for such an ass as I'm making of myself." So 
home through the quiet streets, and into his. studio, thinking 
he would smoke one quiet pipe before turning in. There, 
restlessness, inability to settle to any thing, mad desire to 
sketch a certain face with large eyes, a certain fragile helpless 
figure, now prostrate, now half-reclining on a bit of manly 
shoulder ; a carrying-out of this desire with a bit of crayon 
on the studio-wall, several attempts, constant failure, and 
consequent disgust. A feeling that ought to have been 
pleasure, and yet had a strong tinge of pain at his heart, and 
a constant ringing of one phrase, " Bless you ! — saved me ! " 
in his ears. So to bed ; where he dreamt he saw his name, 
Geoffrey Ludlow, in big black letters at the bottom of a gold 
frame, the picture in which was Keat's "Lamia;" and lo • 
the Lamia had the deep-violet eyes of the wanderer in the 
streets. 



CHAPTER V 

THE LETTER. 



THE houses in St. Barnabas Square have an advantage 
over most other London residences in the possession of 
a " third room " on the ground-floor. Most people who, 



TJic Letter. 35 

purposing to change their domicile, have gone in for a study 
of the Times Supplement or the mendacious catalogues of 
house-agents, have read of the "noble dining-room, snug 
breakfast-room, and library," and have found the said break- 
fast-room to be about the size and depth of a warm-bath, 
and the "library" a soul-depressing hole just beyond the 
glazed top of the kitchen-stairs, to which are eventually 
relegated your old boots, the bust of the friend with whom 
since he presented it you have had a deadly quarrel, some 
odd numbers of magazines, and the framework of a shower- 
bath which, in a moment of madness, you bought at a sale 
and never have been able to fit together. 

But the houses in St. Barnabas Square have each, built 
over what in other neighbourhoods is called "leads," — a 
ghastly space where the cats creep stealthily about in the 
day-time, and whence at night they yowl with preternatural 
pertinacity, — a fine large room, devoted in most instances to 
the purposes of billiards, but at Lord Beauport's given up 
entirely to Lord Caterham. It had been selected originally 
from its situation on the ground-floor giving the poor 
crippled lad easy means of exit and entrance, and preventing 
any necessity for his being carried — for walking was utterly 
impossible to him — up and down stairs. It was his room ; 
and there, and there alone, he was absolute master; there 
he was allowed to carry out what his mother spoke of as his 
"fads," what his father called "poor Caterham's odd ways." 
His brother, Lionel Brakespere, had been in the habit of 
dropping in there twice or three times a-week, smoking his 
cigar, turning over the "rum things" on the table, asking 
advice which he never took, and lounging round the room, 
reading the backs of the books which he did not understand, 
and criticising the pictures which he knew nothing about. 
It would have been impossible to tell to what manner of 
man the room belonged from a cursory survey of its contents. 
Three-fourths of the walls were covered with large bookcases 
filled with a heterogeneous assemblage of books. Here a row 
of poets, a big quarto Shakespeare in six volumes, followed 
by Youatt on the Horse, Philip Van Artevelde, and Stanhope's 
Christian Martyr. In the next shelf Voltaire, all the 
Tennysons, Mr. Sponge's Sporting-Tour, a work on Farriery, 
and Blunt on the Pentateuch. So the melange ran throughout 
the bookshelves; and on the fourth w*H where hung the 

D 2 



36 Land at Last. 

pictures, it was not much better. For in the centre were 
Landseer's " Midsummer-Night's Dream," where that lovely 
Titania, unfairy-like if you please, but one of the most 
glorious specimens of pictured womanhood, pillows her fair 
face under the shadow of that magnificent ass's head j and 
Friths " Coming of Age," and Delaroche's " Execution of 
Lady Jane Grey," and three or four splendid proof-engrav- 
ings of untouchable Sir Joshua; and among them, dotted 
here and there, hunting-sketches by Aiken, and coaching bits 
from Fores. Scattered about on tables were pieces of lava 
from Vesuvius, photographs from Pompeii, a collection of 
weeds and grasses from the Arctic regions (all duly labelled 
in the most precise handwriting), a horse's shoe specially 
adapted for ice-travelling, specimens of egg-shell china, a 
box of gleaming carpenter's tools, boxes of Tunbridge ware, 
furs of Indian manufacture, caricature statuettes by Danton, 
a case of shells, and another of geological specimens. Here 
sl:ood an easel bearing a half-finished picture, in one corner 
was a sheaf of walking-sticks, against the wall a rack of 
whips. Before the fire was a carved-oak writing-desk, and 
on it, beside the ordinary blotting and writing materials, 
were an aneroid barometer, a small skeleton clock, and a 
silver handbell. And at it sat Viscount Caterham, his hea< J 
drooping, his face pale, his hands idly clasped before him. 

Not an unusual position this with him, not unusual by 
any means when he was alone. In such society as he forced 
himself to keep — for with him it was more than effort to 
determine occasionally to shake off his love of solitude, to 
be present amongst his father's guests, and to receive some 
few special favourites in his own rooms — he was more than 
pleasant, he was brilliant and amusing. Big, heavy, good- 
natured guardsmen, who had contributed nothing to the 
" go " of the evening, and had nearly tugged off their tawny 
beards in the vain endeavour to extract something to say, 
would go away, and growl in deep bas voices over their 
cigars about "that strordinary fler Caterham. Knows a 
lot, you know, that fler, 'bout all sorts things. Can't 'ceive 
where picks it all up ; and as jolly as old boots, by Jove ! " 

Old friends of Lord Beauport's, now gradually dropping 
into fogiedom, and clutching year by year more tightly the 
conventional prejudices instilled into them in early life, 
listened with elevated eyebrows and dropping jaws to Lord 



The Letter. 37 

Caterham's outspoken opinions, now clothed in brilliant 
tropes, now crackling with smart antithesis, but always fresh, 
earnest, liberal, and vigorous; and when they talked him 
over in club-windows, these old boys would say that "there 
was something in that deformed fellow of Beauport's, but 
that he was all wrong ; his mind as warped as his body, by 
George ! " And women, — ah, that was the worst of all, — • 
women would sit and listen to him on such rare occasions 
as he spoke before them, sit many of them steadfast-eyed 
and ear-attentive, and would give him smiles and encouraging 
glances, and then would float away and talk to their next 
dancing-partner of the strange little man who had such odd 
ideas, and spoke so — so unlike most people, you know. 

He knew it all, this fragile, colourless, delicate cripple, 
bound for life to his wheel-chair, dependent for mere motion 
on the assistance of others ; a something apart and almost 
without parallel, helpless as a little child, and yet with the 
brain, the heart, the passions of a man. No keener ob- 
server of outward show, no clearer reader of character than 
he. From out his deep-set melancholy eyes he saw the 
stare of astonishment, sometimes the look of disgust, which 
usually marked a first introduction to him ; his quick ear 
caught the would-be compassionate inflection of the voice 
addressing him on the simplest matters ; he knew what the 
old fogies were thinking of, as they shifted uneasily in their 
chairs as he spoke ; and he interpreted clearly enough the 
straying glances and occasional interjections of the women. 
He knew it all, and bore it — bore it as the cross is rarely 
borne. 

Only three times in his life had there gone up from his 
lips a wail to the Father of mercies, a passionate outpouring 
of his heart, a wild inquiry as to why such affliction had 
been cast upon him. But three times, and the first of these 
was when he was a lad of eighteen. Lord Beauport had 
been educated at Charterhouse, where, as every one knows, 
Founder's Day is kept with annual rejoicings. To one of 
these celebrations Lord Beauport had gone, taking Lord 
Caterham with him. The speeches and recitations were 
over, and the crowd of spectators were filing out into the 
quadrangle, when Lord Caterham, whose chair was being 
wheeled by a servant close by his father's side, heard a 
cheery voice say, " What, Brakespere ! Gad, Lord Beauport, 



38 Land at Last. 

I mean ! I forgot. Well, how are you, my dear fellow ? 
I haven't seen you since we sat on the same form in that 
old place." Lord Caterham looked up and saw his father 
shaking hands with a jolly-looking middle-aged man, who 
rattled on — "Well, and you've been in luck and are a great 
gun ! I'm delighted to hear it. You're just the fellow to 
bear your honours bravely. O yes, I'm wonderfully well, 
thank God. And I've got my boy here at the old shop, 
doing just as we used to do, Brakespere — Beauport, I mean. 
I'll introduce you. Here, Charley !" calling to him a fine 
handsome lad ; " this is Lord Beauport, an old schoolfellow 
of mine. And you, Beauport, — you've got children, eh?" 

" O yes," said Lord Beauport — " two boys." 

" Ah ! that's right. I wish they'd been here ; I should 
have liked to have seen them." The man rattled on, but 
Lord Caterham heard no more. He had heard enough. 
He knew that his father was ashamed to acknowledge his 
maimed and crippled child — ashamed of a comparison 
between the stalwart son of his old schoolfellow and his own 
blighted lad; and that night Lord Caterham's pillow was 
wet with tears, and he prayed to God that his life might be 
taken from him. 

Twice since then the same feelings had been violently 
excited ; but the sense of his position, the knowledge that 
he was a perpetual grief and affliction to his parents, was 
ever present, and pervaded his very being. To tell truth, 
neither his father nor his mother ever outwardly manifested 
their disappointment or their sorrow at the hopeless physical 
state of their firstborn son ; but Lord Caterham read his 
father's trouble in thousands of covert glances thrown 
towards the occupant of the wheeled chair, which the elder 
man thought were all unmarked, in short self-suppressed 
sighs, in sudden shiftings of the conversation when any 
subject involving a question of physical activity or muscular 
force happened to be touched upon, in the persistent way in 
which his father excluded him from those regular solemn 
festivities of the season, held at certain special times, and at 
which he by right should certainly have been present. 

No man knew better than Lord Beauport the horrible 
injustice he was committing ; he felt that he was mutely 
rebelling against the decrees of Providence, and adding to 
the affliction already mysteriously dispensed to his unfortunate 



T/ie Letter. 39 

son by his treatment. He fought against it, but without 
avail ; he could not bow his head and kiss the rod by which 
he had been smitten. Had his heir been brainless, dissi- 
pated, even bad, he could have forgiven him. He did in 
his heart forgive his second son when he became all three ; 
but that he, George Brakespere, handsome Brakespere, one 
of the best athletes of the day, should have to own that poor 
misshapen man as his son and heir ! — it was too much. He 
tried to persuade himself that he loved his son ; but he never 
looked at him without a shudder, never spoke of him with 
unflushed cheeks. 

As for Lady Beauport, from the time that the child's 
malady first was proclaimed incurable, she never took the 
smallest interest in him, but devoted herself, as much as 
devotion was compatible with perpetual attendance at ball, 
concert, and theatre, to her second son. As a child, Lord 
Caterham had, by her express commands, been studiously 
kept out of her sight ; and now that he was a man, she saw 
very much less of him than of many strangers. A dozen 
times in the year she would enter his room and remain a 
few minutes, asking for his taste in a matter ot fancy-costume, 
or something of the kind ; and then she would brush his 
forehead with her lips, and rustle away perfectly satisfied 
with her manner of discharging the duties of maternity. 

And Lord Caterham knew all this ; read it as in a book ; 
and suffered, and was strong. Who know most of life, 
discern character most readily, and read it most deeply? 
We who what we call " mix in the world," hurry hither and 
thither, buffeting our way through friends and foes, taking 
the rough and the smooth, smiling here, frowning there, but 
ever pushing onward? Or the quiet ones, who lie by in the 
nooks and lanes, and look on at the strife, and mark the 
quality and effect of the blows struck ; who see not merely 
how, but why the battle has been undertaken ; who can trace 
the strong and weak points of the attack and defence, see 
the skirmishers thrown out here, the feigned retreat there, 
the mine ready prepared in the far distance ? How many 
years had that crippled man looked on at life, standing as it 
were at the gates and peering in at the antics and dalliances, 
the bowings and scrapings, the mad moppings and idiotic 
mowings of the puppets performing? And had he not 



40 Land at Last. 

arrived during this period at a perfect knowledge of how the 
wires were pulled, and what was the result ? 

Among them but not of them, in the midst of the whirl of 
London but as isolated as a hermit, with keen analytical 
powers, and leisure and opportunity to give them full swing, 
Lord Caterham passed his life in studying the lives of other 
people, in taking off the padding and the drapery, the paint 
and the tinsel, in looking behind the grins, and studying the 
motives for the sneers. Ah, what a life for a man to pass ! 
situated as Lord Caterham was, he must under such circum- 
stances have become either a Quilp or an angel. The 
natural tendency is to the former : but Providence had been 
kind in one instance to Lord Caterham, and he, like Mr. 
Disraeli, went in for the angel. 

His flow of spirits was generally, to say the least of it, 
equable. When the dark hour was on him he suffered 
dreadfully ; but this morning he was more than usually low, 
for he had been pondering over his brother's insane downfall, 
and it was with something like real pleasure that he heard 
his servant announce " Mr. Barford," and gave orders for 
that gentleman's admittance. 

The Honourable Algernon Barford by prescriptive right, 
but " Algy Barford " to any one after two days' acquaintance 
with him, was one of those men whom it is impossible not 
to call by their Christian names ; whom it is impossible 
not to like as an acquaintance ; whom it is difficult to 
take into intimate friendship ; but with whom no one ever 
quarrelled. A big, broad-chested, broad-faced, light-whis- 
kered man, perfectly dressed, with an easy rolling walk, a 
pleasant presence, a way of enarming and " old boy-ing " 
you, without the least appearance of undue familiarity ; on 
the contrary, with a sense of real delight in your society; 
with a voice which, without being in the least affected, or in 
the remotest degree resembling the tone of the stage-noble- 
man, had the real swell ring and roll in it ; a kindly, sunny, 
chirpy, world-citizen, who, with what was supposed to be a 
very small income, lived in the best society, never borrowed 
or owed a sovereign, and was nearly always in good temper. 
Algy Barford was the very man to visit you when you were 
out of spirits. A glance at him was cheering; it revived 
one at once to look at his shiny bald forehead fringed with 



The Letter. 41 

.nin golden hair, at his saucy blue eyes, his big grinning 
mouth furnished with sparkling teeth ; and when he spoke, 
his voice came ringing out with a cheery music of its own. 

" Hallo, Caterham !" said he, coming up to the chair and 
placing one of his big hands on the occupant's small shoulder; 
"how goes it, my boy? Wanted to see you, and have a 
chat. How are you, old fellow, eh ? Where does one put 
one's hat, by the way, dear old boy ? Can't put it under 
my seat, you know, or I should think I was in church ; and 
there's no place in this den of yours ; and — ah, that'll do, on 
that lady's head. Who is it ? O, Pallas Athene ; ah, very 
well then, non invito. Minerva, she'll support my castor for 
me. Fancy my recollecting Latin, eh ? but I think I must 
have seen it on somebody's crest. Well, and now, old boy, 
how are you ?" 

" Well, not very brilliant this morning, Algy. I — " 

"Ah, like me, got rats, haven't you?" 

" Rats ?" 

" Yes ; whenever I'm out of spirits I think I've got rats — 
sometimes boiled rats. Oh, it's all very well for you to 
laugh, Caterham ; but you know, though I'm generally 
pretty jolly, sometimes I have a regular file-gnawing time oi 
it. I think I'll take a peg, dear old boy — a sherry peg — 
just to keep me up." 

"To be sure. Just ring for Stevens, will you ? he'll — " 

" Not at all ; I recollect where the sherry is and where 
the glasses live. Nourri dans le serail, fen connais les detours. 
Here they are. Have a peg, Caterham?" 

"No, thanks, Algy; the doctor forbids me that sort ot 
thing. I take no exercise to carry it off, you know ; but I 
thought some one told me you had turned teetotaller." 

" Gad, how extraordinarily things get wind, don't you 
know ! So I did, honour ! — kept to it all strictly, give you 
my word, for — ay, for a fortnight ; but then I thought I 
might as well die a natural death, so I took to it again. 
This is the second peg I've had to-day — took number one 
at the Foreign Office, with my cousin Jack Lambert. You 
know Jack? — little fellow, short and dirty, like a winter's 
day." 

"I know him," said Caterham, smiling; "a sharp fellow." 

"O yes, deuced cute little dog — knows every thing. I 
wanted him to recommend mc a new servant — obliged to 



42 Land at Last. 

send my man away — couldn't stand him any longer — always 
worrying me." 

"I thought he was a capital servant?" 

" Ye-es ; knew too much though, and went to too many 
evening-parties — never would give me a chance of wearing 
my own black bags and dress-boots — kept 'em in constant 
requisition, by Jove ! A greedy fellow too. I used to let 
him get just outside the door with the breakfast-things, and 
then suddenly call him back ; and he never showed up 
without his mouth full of kidney, or whatever it was. And 
he always would read my letters — before I'd done with 
them, I mean. I'm short-sighted, you know, and obliged 
to get close to the light : he was in such a hurry to find out 
what they were about, that he used to peep in through the 
window, and read them over my shoulder. I found this 
out; and this morning I was ready for him with my fist 
neatly doubled-up in a thick towel. I saw his shadow come 
stealing across the paper, and then I turned round and let 
out at him slap through the glass. It was a gentle hint that 
I had spotted his game ; and so he came in when he had 
got his face right, and begged me to suit myself in a month, 
as he had heard of a place which he thought he should like 
better. Now, can you tell me of any handy fellow, 
Caterham?" 

" Not I ; I'm all unlikely to know of such people. Stay, 
there was a man that — " 

" Yes ; and then you stop. Gad, you are like the rest of 
the world, old fellow : you have an arriere fiens'ce which 
prevents your telling a fellow a good thing." 

" No, not that, Algy. I was going to say that there was 
a man who was Lionel's servant. I don't know whether he 
has got another place ; but Lionel, you know — " and Lord 
Caterham stopped with a knot in his throat and burning 
cheeks. 

" I know, dear old boy," said Algy Barford, rising from 
his seat and again placing his hand on Caterham's shoulder ; 
" of course I know. You're too much a man of the world " 
— (Heaven help us ! Caterham a man of the world ! But 
this was Algy Barford's pleasant way of putting it) — " not to 
know that the clubs rang with the whole story last night. 
Don't shrink, old boy. It's a bad business; but I never 
heard such tremendous sympathy expressed for a — for a 



The Letter. 43 

buffer — as for Lionel. Every body says he must have been 
no end cornered before he — before he — well, there's no 
use talking of it. But what I wanted to say to you is this, — ■ 
and I'm deuced glad you mentioned Lionel's name, old 
fellow, for I've been thinking all the time I've been here 
how I could bring it in. Look here ! he and I were no end 
chums, you know; I was much older than he ; but we took 
to each other like any thing, and — and I got a letter from 
him from Liverpool with — with an enclosure for you, old 
boy." 

Algy Barford unbuttoned his coat as he said these last 
words, took a long breath, and seemed immensely relieved, 
though he still looked anxiously towards his friend. 

"An enclosure for me?" said Lord Caterham, turning 
deadly white ; "no further trouble — no further misery for — " 

" On my honour, Caterham, I dont know what it is," said 
Algy Barford ; " he doesn't hint it in his letter to me. He 
simply says, ' Let the enclosed be given to Caterham, and 
given by your own hand.' Lie underlines that last sentence ; 
and so I brought it on. I'm a bungling jackass, or I should 
have found means to explain it myself, by Jove ! But as 
you have helped me, so much the better." 

" Have you it with you ?" 

" O yes ; brought it on purpose," said Algy, rising and 
taking his coat from a chair, and his hat from the head of 
Pallas Athene ; " here it is. I don't suppose anything from 
poor Lionel can be very brilliant just now ; but still, I know 
nothing. Good-by, Caterham, old fellow ; can't help me to 
a servant-man, eh ? See you next week ; meantime, — and 
this earnest, old boy, — if there's anything I can do to help 
Lionel in any shape, you'll let me know, won't you, old 
fellow?" 

And Algy Barford handed Lord Caterham the letter, 
kissed his hand, and departed in his usual airy, cheery 
fashion. 

That night Lord Caterham did not appear at the dinner- 
table ; and his servant, on being asked, said that his master 
'•had been more than usual queer-like/' and had gone to 
bed very early. 



44 Land at Last. 

CHAPTER VI. 

THE FIRST VISIT. 

GEOFFREY LUDLOW was in his way a recognisant 
and a grateful man, grateful for such mercies as he 
knew he enjoyed ; but from never having experienced its 
loss, he was not sufficiently appreciative of one of the 
greatest of life's blessings, the faculty of sleep at will. He 
could have slept, had he so willed it, under the tremendous 
cannonading, the feu-d'enfer, before Sebastopol, or while 
Mr. Gladstone was speaking his best speech, or Mr. 
Tennyson was reading aloud his own poetry ; whenever and 
wherever he chose he could sleep the calm peaceful sleep of 
an infant. Some people tell you they are too tired to sleep 
— that was never the case with Geoffrey ; others that their 
minds are too full, that they are too excited, that the 
weather is too hot or too cold, that there is too much noise, 
or that the very silence is too oppressive. But, excited or 
comatose, hot or cold, in the rumble of London streets or 
the dead silence of — well, he had never tried the Desert, but 
let us say Walton-on-the-Naze, Geoffrey Ludlow no sooner 
laid his head on the pillow than he went off into a sound, 
glorious, healthy sleep — steady, calm, and peaceful ; not one 
of your stertorous, heavy, growling slumbers, nor your 
starting, fly-catching, open-mouthed, moaning states, but a 
placid, regular sleep, so quiet and undisturbed that he 
scarcely seemed to breathe ; and often as a child had 
caused his mother to examine with anxiety whether the 
motionless figure stretched upon the little bed was only 
sleeping naturally, or whether the last long sleep had not 
fallen on it. 

Dreams he had, no doubt ; but they by no means 
disturbed the refreshing, invigorating character of his repose. 
On the night of his adventure in the streets, he dreamt the 
Lamia dream without its in the least affecting his slumber ; 
and when he opened his eyes the next morning, Avith the 
recollection of where he was, and what day it was, and what 
he had to do — those post-waking thoughts which come to 
all of us — there came upon him an indefinable sensation of 
something pleasurable and happy, of something bright and 
sunshiny, of something which made his heart feel light within 



The First Visit. 45 

him, and caused him to open his eyes and grapple with the 
day at once. 

Some one surely must long ere this have remarked how 
our manner of waking from slumber is affected by our state 
of mind. The instant that consciousness comes upon us, 
the dominant object of our thoughts, be it pleasant or 
horrible, is before us : the absurd quarrel with the man in 
the black beard last night, about— what was it about? the 
acceptance which Smith holds, which must be met, and 
can't be renewed ; the proposal in the conservatory to Emily 
Fairbaim, while she was flushed with the first valse after 
supper, and we with Mrs. Tresillian's champagne ; — or, per 
contra, as they say in the City, the thrilling pressure of Flora 
Maitland's hand, and the low whisper in which she gave 
us rendezvous at the Botanical Fete this afternoon ; the 
lawyer's letter informing us of our godfather's handsome 
legacy ; — all these, whether for good or ill, come before us 
with the first unclosing of our eyelids. If agreeable we 
rouse ourselves at once, and lie simultaneously chewing the 
cud of pleasant thoughts and enjoying the calm haven of our 
bed ; if objectionable, we try and shut them out yet for a 
little while, and turning round court sleep once more. 

What was the first thought that flashed across Geoffrey 
Ludlow's brain immediately on his waking, and filled him 
with hope and joy? Not the remembrance of the purchase 
of his picture by Mr. Stompff, though that certainly occurred 
to him, with Stompff's promises of future employment, and 
the kind words of his old friends at the Titians, all floating 
simultaneously across his mind. But with these thoughts 
came the recollection of a fragile form, and a thin hand with 
long lithe fingers wound round his own, and a low feeble 
voice whispering the words " Bless you ! — saved me ! " in his 
listening ear. 

Beneath the flickering gas-lamps, or in the dim half-light 
of Mrs. Flexor's room, he had been unable to make out the 
colour of the eyes, or of the thick hair which hung in heavy 
masses over her cheeks ; it was a spiritual recollection of her 
at the best ; but he would soon change that into a material 
inspection. So, after settling in his own mind — that mind 
which coincides so readily with our wishes — that it was 
benevolence which prompted his every action, and which 



46 Land at Last. 

roused in him the desire to know how the patient of the 
previous night was getting on, he sprang from his bed, and 
pulled the string of his shower-bath with an energy which 
not even the knowledge of the water's probable temperature 
could mitigate. But he had not proceeded half-way through 
his toilet, when the old spirit of irresolution began to exercise 
its dominion over him. Was it not somewhat of a Quixotic 
adventure in which he was engaging ? To succour a starving 
frozen girl on a wet night was merely charitable and 
humane ; there was no man of anything like decent feeling 
but would have acted as he had done, and — by George ! — 
here the hair-brushes were suspended in mid-air, just threaten- 
ing a descent one on either side of his bushy head — wouldn't 
it have been better to have accepted Charley Pott's sug- 
gestion, and let the policeman take her to the workhouse ? 
There she would have had every attention and — bah ! every 
attention ! the truckle-bed in a gaunt bare room, surrounded 
by disease in every shape; the prefunctory visits of the 
parish-doctor ; the — O no ! and, moreover, had he not 
heard, or at all events imagined he heard, the pallid lips 
mutter " Not there!" No! there was something in her 
which — which — at all events — well, ruat ccelum, it was done, 
and he must take the consequences ; and down came the 
two hair-brushes like two avalanches, and worried his un- 
resisting scalp like two steam-harrows. The recollection of 
the fragile frame, and the thin hands, and the broken voice, 
supported by the benevolent theory, had it all their own way 
from that time out, until he had finished dressing, and sent 
him downstairs in a happy mood, pleased with what he had 
done, more pleased still with the notion of what he was 
about to do. He entered the room briskly, and striding up 
to an old lady sitting at the head of the breakfast-table,-gave 
her a sounding kiss. 

"Good-morning, dearest mother. — How do, Til, dear?" 
turning to a young woman who was engaged in pouring out 
the tea. " I'm late again, I see." 

"Always on sausage mornings, I notice, Geoffrey," said 
Mrs. Ludlow, with a little asperity. It does not so much 
matter with haddock, though it becomes leathery ; or eggs, 
for you like them hard ; but sausages should be eaten hot, 
or not at all ; and to-day, when I'd sent specially for these, 



The First Visit. 4* 

knowing that nasty herb-stuffing is indigestible — let them 
deny it if they can — it does seem hard that — well, never 
mind—" 

Mrs. Ludlow was a very good old lady, with one great 
failing : she was under the notion that she had to bear what 
she called "a cross," a most uncomfortable typical object, 
which caused all her friends the greatest annoyance, but in 
which, though outwardly mournful, she secretly rejoiced, as 
giving her a peculiar status in her circle. This cross in- 
truded itself into all the social and domestic details of her 
life, and was lugged out metaphorically on all possible occa- 
sions. 

"Don't mind me, mother," said Geoff; "the sausages 
will do splendidly. I overslept myself; I was a little late 
last night." 

"O, at those everlasting Titians. — I declare I forgot," 
said the young woman who had been addressed as " Til," 
and who was Geoffrey's only sister. " Ah, poor fellow ! 
studying his art till two this morning, wasn't he?" And 
Miss Til made a comic sympathetic moue, which made 
Geoff laugh. 

"Two!" said Mrs. Ludlow; "nearer three, Matilda. I 
ought to know, for I had water running down my back all 
night, and my feet as cold as stone ; and I had a perfect 
recollection of having left the key of the linen closet in the 
door, owing to my having been hurried down to luncheon 
yesterday when I was giving Martha out the clean pillow- 
cases. However, if burglars do break into that linen-closet, 
it won't be for my not having mentioned it, as I call you to 
witness, Matilda." 

"All right, mother," said Geoffrey; "we'll run the risk of 
that. I'm very sorry I disturbed the house, but I was late, 
I confess ; but I did some good, though." 

" O yes, Geoffrey, we know," said Matilda. " Got some 
new notions for a subject, or heard some aesthetic criticism; 
or met some wonderful lion, who's going to astonish the 
world, and of whom no one ever hears again ! You always 
have done something extraordinary when you're out very 
late, I find." 

"Well, I did something really extraordinary last night. I 
sold my picture the ' Ballroom,' you know; and for what dff 
you think ? — two hundred pounds." 



48 Land at Last, 

" O, Geoff, you dear, darling old Geoff ! I am so glad ! 
Two hundred pounds ! O, Geoff, Geoff ! You dear, lucky 
old fellow ! " and Miss Till flung her arms round her brother's 
neck and hugged him with delight. Mrs. Ludlow said 
never a word ; but her cross melted away momentarily, her 
eyes filled with tears, and her lips quivered. Geoffrey 
noticed this, and so soon as he had returned his sister's 
hearty embrace, he went up to his mother, and kneeling by 
her side, put up his face for her kiss. 

"God bless you, my son !" said the old lady reverently, 
as she gave it ; " God bless you ! This is brave news, 
indeed. I knew it would come in time ; but — " 

" Yes ; but tell us all about it, Geoff. How did it come 
about? and however did you pluck up courage, you dear, 
bashful, nervous old thing, to ask such a price ? " 

" I— why, Til, you know that I — and you, dear mother, 
you know too that — not that I am bashful, as Til says ; but 
still there's something. O, I should never have sold the 
picture, I believe, if I'd been let alone. It was Charley 
Potts sold it for me." 

" Charles Potts ! That ridiculous young man ! Well, I 
should never have thought it," said Mrs. Ludlow. 

Miss Matilda said nothing, but a faint flush rose on her 
neck and cheeks, and died away again as quickly as it 
came. 

" O, he's a capital man of business — for anybody else, 
that's to say. He don't do much good for himself. He 
sold the picture for me, and prevented my saying a word in 
the whole affair. And who do you think has bought it? 
Mr. Stompff, the great dealer, who tells me he'll take as 
many more of the same style as I like to paint." 

" This is great news, indeed, my boy," said the old lady. 
"You've only to persevere, and your fortune's made. Only 
one thing, Geoffrey, — never paint on Sunday, or you'll never 
become a great man." 

"Well but, mother," said Geoff, smiling, "Sir Joshua 
Reynolds painted always on Sundays until Johnson's death; 
and he was a great man." 

" Ah, well, my dear," replied his mother forcibly, if not 
logically, " that's nothing to do with it." 

Then Geoffrey, who had been hurrying through his sausage, 
and towards the last began to grow nervous and fidgety — 



The First Visit. 49 

accounted for by his mother and sister from his anxiety to 
go and see Mr. Stompff, and at once fling himself on to 
fresh canvases — finished his breakfast, and went out to get 
his hat. Mrs. Ludlow, with her " cross " rapidly coming 
upon her, sat down to " do the books," — an inspection of 
the household brigade of tradesmen's accounts which she 
carried on weekly with the sternest rigour; and Matilda, 
who was by no means either a romantic or a strong-minded 
woman, commenced to darn a basketful of Geoffrey's socks. 
Then the sock-destroyer put his head in at the door, his 
mouth ornamented with a large cigar, and calling out " Good- 
bye," departed on his way. 

The fragile form, the thin hands, and the soft low voice 
had it all their own way with Geoffrey Ludlow now. He 
was going to see their owner ; in less than an hour he should 
know the colour of the eyes and the hair ; and figuratively 
Geoffrey walked upon air; literally, he strode along with 
bright eyes and flushed cheeks, swinging his stick, and, but 
for the necessity of clenching his cigar between his teeth, 
inclined to hum a tune aloud. He scarcely noticed any of 
the people he met ; but such as he did casually glance at he 
pitied from the bottom of his soul : there were no thin hands 
or soft voices waiting for them. And it must be owned that 
the passers-by who noticed him returned his pity. The 
clerks on the omnibuses, sucking solemnly at their briar-root 
pipes, or immersed in their newspapers, solemn staid men 
going in " to business," on their regular daily routine, looked 
up with wonder on this buoyant figure, with its black wide- 
awake hat and long floating beard, its jerky walk, its swing- 
ing stick, and its general air of light-hearted happiness. The 
cynical clerks, men with large families, whom nothing but 
an increase of salary could rouse, interchanged shoulder- 
shrugs of contempt, and the omnibus-conductor, likewise a 
cynic, after taking a long stare at Geoffrey, called out to his 
driver, " 'Appy cove that ! looks as if he'd found a fourpenny- 
piece, don't he?" 

Entirely ignorant of the attention he was attracting, Geoff 
blithely pursued his way. He lived at Brompton, and he was 
bound for the neighbourhood of Portland Place ; so he turned 
in at the Albert Gate, and crossing the enclosure and the Row, 
made for Grosvenor Gate. In the Park he was equally the 
object of remark : the nurse-girls called their charges to come 



So Land at Last, 

" to heel " out of the way of; that " nasty ugly big man ;" the 
valetudinarians taking their constitutional in the Row loathed 
him for swinging his stick and making their horses shy as he 
passed ; the park-keepers watched him narrowly, as one 
probably with felonious intent to the plants or the ducks. 

Still, utterly unconscious, Geoffrey went swinging along 
across Grosvenor Square, down Brook Street ; and not 
until he turned into Bond Street did he begin to realise 
entirely the step he was about to take. Then he wavered, in 
mind and in gait ; he thought he would turn back : he did 
turn back, irresolute, doubtful. Better have nothing more 
to do with it ; nip it in the bud ; send Charley Potts with 
a couple of sovereigns to Mrs. Flexor's, and tell her to set 
the girl on her way again, and wish her God-speed. But 
what if she were still ill, unable to move ? people didn't 
gain sufficient strength in twelve hours ; and Charley, 
though kind-hearted, was rather brusque; and then the low 
voice, with the " Bless you ! — saved me !" came murmuring 
in his ear ; and Geoffrey, like Whittington, turned again, 
and strode on towards Little Flotsam Street. 

When he got near Flexor's door, he faltered again, and 
very nearly gave in : but looking up, saw Mrs. Flexor stand- 
ing on the pavement ; and perceiving by her manner that 
his advent had been noticed, proceeded, and was soon 
alongside that matron. 

" Good morning, Mrs. Flexor." 

" Good mornin', sir ; thought you'd be over early, though 
not lookin' for you now, but for Reg'las, my youngest 
plague, so called after Mr. Scumble's Wictory of the Car- 
thageniums, who has gone for milk for some posset for our 
dear ; who is much better this mornin', the Lord a mussy ! 
Dr. Rollix have been, and says we may sit up a little, if 
taking nourishment prescribed ; and pleased to see you we 
shall be. A pretty creetur, Mr. Ludlow, though thin as thin 
and low as low : but what can we expect ?" 

"She is better, then?" 

" A deal better, more herself like ; though not knowing 
what she was before, I can't exactly say. Flexor was fine 
and buffy when he came home last night, after you was 
gone, sir. Them nasty Titiums, he always gets upset there. 
And now he's gone to sit to Mr. Potts for — ah, well, some 
Roman party whose name I never can remember." 



The First Visit. 5 1 

" Is your patient up, Mrs. Flexor ?" 

'•Gettin'. We shall be ready to see you in five minutes, 
sir. I'll go and see to her at once." 

Mrs. Flexor retired, and Geoffrey was left to himself for a 
quarter of an hour standing in the street, during which time 
he amused himself as most people would under similar cir- 
cumstances. That is to say, he stared at the houses opposite 
and at the people who passed ; and then he beat his stick 
against his leg, and then he whistled a tune, and then, 
having looked at his watch five times, he looked at it for the 
sixth. Then he walked up the street, taking care to place 
his foot on the round iron of every coal-shoot ; and then he 
walked down the street, carrying out a determination to step 
in the exact centre of every flagstone ; and then, after he 
had pulled his beard a dozen times, and lifted his wideawake 
hat as many, that the air might blow upon his hot forehead, 
he saw Mrs. Flexor's head protrude from the doorway, and 
he felt very much inclined to run away. But he checked 
himself in time, and entered the house, and, after a ghostly 
admonition from Mrs. Flexor "not to hagitate her," he 
opened the parlour-door, which Mrs. Flexor duly shut 
behind him, and entered the room. 

Little light ever groped its way between the closely-packed 
rows of houses in Little Flotsam Street, even on the brightest 
summer day ; and on a dark and dreary winter's morning 
Mrs. Flexor's little front parlour was horribly dark. The 
worthy landlady had some wild notion, whence derived no 
one knew, that an immense amount of gentility was derived 
from keeping the light out; and consequently the bottom 
parts of her windows were fitted with dwarf wire-blinds, and 
the top parts with long linen-blinds, and across both were 
drawn curtains made of a kind of white fishing-net ; so that 
even so little daylight as Little Flotsam Street enjoyed was 
greatly diluted in the Flexorian establishment. 

But Geoffrey Ludlow saw stretched out on a miserable 
black horsehair sofa before him there this fragile form which 
had been haunting his brain for the last twelve hours. Ah, 
how thin and fragile it was ; how small it looked, even in 
its worn draggled black-merino dress ! As he advanced 
noiselessly, he saw that the patient slept; her head was 
thrown back, her delicate white hands (and almost in- 
voluntarily Geoffrey remarked that she wore no wedding- 



5 2 Land at Last, 

ring) were clasped across her breast, and her hair, put off 
her dead-white face, fell in thick clusters over her shoulders. 

With a professional eye Geoffrey saw at once that whatever 
trouble she might have taken, she could not have been more 
artistically posed than in this natural attitude. The expres- 
sion of her eyes was wanting ; and, as he sunk into a chair 
at her feet, her eyes opened upon him. Then he saw her 
face in its entirety ; saw large deep-violet eyes, with dark 
lashes and eyebrows ; a thin, slightly aquiline nose ; small 
thin close lips, and a little chin ; a complexion of the deadest 
white, without the smallest colour ; and hair, long thick rich 
luxuriant hair, of a deep, red-gold colour— not the poetic 
" auburn," not the vulgar " carrots ; " a rich metallic red, 
unmistakable, admitting of no compromise, no darkening by 
grease or confining by fixature — a great mass of deep-red 
hair, strange, weird, and oddly beautiful. The deep-violet 
eyes, opening slowly, fixed their regard on his face without 
a tremor, and with a somewhat languid gaze ; then brighten- 
ing slowly, while the hands were unclasped, and the voice — 
how well Geoff remembered its tones, and how they thrilled 
him again !— murmured faintly, " It is you !" 

What is that wonderful something in the human voice 
which at once proclaims the social status of the speaker? 
The proletary and the roturier, Nature willing, can have as 
good features, grow as flowing beards, be as good in stature, 
grace, and agility, as the noblest patrician, or the man in 
whose veins flows the purest sangreazul; but they fail generally 
in hands, always in voice. Geoffrey Ludlow, all his weakness 
and irresolution notwithstanding, was necessarily by his art 
a student of life and character ; and no sooner did he hear 
those three little words spoken in that tone, than all his 
floating ideas of shamming tramp or hypocritical street- 
walker, as connected with the recipient of his last night's 
charity, died away, and ha recognised at once the soft 
modulations of education, if not of birth. 

But those three words, spoken in deep low quivering 
tones, while they set the blood dancing in Geoffrey Ludlow's 
veins, made him at the same time very uncomfortable. He 
had a dread of anything romantic ; and there flashed through 
his mind an idea that he could only answer this remark by 
exclaiming, "Tis I!" or " Ay, indeed!" or something else 
equally absurd and ridiculous. So he contented himseli 



The First Visit. 53 

with bowing his head and putting out his hand — into which 
the long lithe fingers came fluttering instantly. Then with 
burning cheeks Geoffrey bent forward, and said, " You arc 
better to-day?" 

" Oh, so much — so much better ! thanks to you, thanks 
to you !" 

" Your doctor has been ?" She bowed her head in reply. 

"And you have everything you wish for?" She bowed 
again, this time glancing up — with, O, such a light in the 
deep-violet eyes — into Geoffrey's face ! 

" Then — then I will leave you now," said he, awkwardly 
enough. The glance fell as he said this ; but flashed again 
full and earnest in an instant ; the lithe fingers wound round 
his wrist, and the voice, even lower and more tremulously 
than before, whispered, "You'll come to-morrow?" 

Geoff flushed again, stammered, " Yes, O, by all means !" 
made a clumsy bow, and went out. 

Now this was a short, and not a particularly satisfactory, 
interview ; but the smallest detail of it remained in Geoffrey 
Ludlow's mind, and was reproduced throughout the remainder 
of that day and the first portion of the succeeding night, for 
him to ponder over. He felt the clasp of her fingers yet on 
his wrist, and he heard the soft voice, "You'll come to- 
morrow ?" It must be a long distance, he thought, that he 
would not go to gaze into those eyes, to touch that hand, to 
hear that voice again ! 



CHAPTER VII. 

CHEZ POTTS. 

MR. POTTS lived in Berners Street, on the second 
floor of a rambling big old-fashioned house, which 
in its palmy days had been* inhabited by people of distinc- 
tion ; and in which it was rumoured in the art-world that 
the great Mr. Fuseli had once lived, and painted those 
horrors which sprung from the nightmare consequent on 
heavy suppers of pork-chops. But these were the days of 
its decadence, and each of its floors had now a separate and 
distinct tenant. The ground-floor was a kind of half show- 
room, half shop, held by Mr. Lectern, the great church- 



54 Land ai Last. 

upholsterer. Specimens of stained-glass windows, croziers, 
and brass instruments like exaggerated beadles'-staves, gilt 
sets of communion-service, and splendidly-worked altar- 
cloths, occupied the walls ; the visitor walked up to the 
desk at which Mr. Lectern presided between groves of 
elaborately-carved pulpits and reading-desks, and brazen 
eagles were extending their wings in every available corner. 
On the first-floor Mdlle. Stetti gave lessons to the nobility, 
gentry, and the public in general in the fashionable dances 
of the day, and in the Magyar sceptre-exercises for opening 
the chest and improving the figure. Mdlle. Stetti had a 
very large connection; and as many of her pupils were 
adults who had never learned to dance while they were 
supple and tender, and as, under the persevering tuition of 
their little instructress, they gambolled in a cumbrous and 
rather elephantine manner, they earned for themselves many 
hearty anathemas from Mr. Potts, who found it impossible 
to work with anything like a steady hand while the whole 
house was rocking under the influence of a stout stockbroker 
doing the " changes," or while the walls trembled at every 
bound of the fourteen-stone lady from Islington, who was 
being initiated into the mysteries of the gavotte. But 
Charley Potts' pipe was the only confidant of his growled 
anathemas, and on the whole he got on remarkably well 
with his neighbours ; for Mr. Lectern had lent him bits of 
oak furniture to paint from ; and once, when he was ill, 
Mdlle. Stetti, who was the dearest, cheeriest, hardest-working, 
best-tempered little creature in existence, had made him 
broths and '■ goodies " with her own hand, and when he was 
well, had always a kind word and a smile for him — and, 
indeed, revelled in the practical humour and buffoonery of 
" ce farceur Pott." For Mr. Potts was nothing if not funny ; 
the staircase leading to his rooms began to be decorated 
immediately after you had passed Mdlle. Stetti's apartments ; 
an enormous hand, sketched in crayon, with an outstretched 
finger, directed attention to an inscription — "To the halls of 
Potts !" Just above the little landing you were confronted 
by a big beef-eater's head, out of the mouth of which floated 
a balloon-like legend — " Walk up, walk up, and see the great 
Potts !" The aperture of the letter-box in the door formed 
the mouth in a capital caricatured head of Charley himself; 
and instead of a bell-handle there hung a hare's-foot, beneath 



Chez Potts. 55 

which was gummed a paper label with a written inscription — 
" Tug the trotter." 

Three days after the gathering at the Titian Sketching- 
Club, Mr. Potts sat in his studio, smoking a pipe, and 
glaring vacantly at a picture on an easel in front of him. It 
was not a comfortable room; its owner's warmest friend 
could not have asserted that. There was no carpet, and 
the floor was begrimed with the dirt of ages, and with spilt 
tobacco and trodden-in cigar-ash. The big window was 
half stopped-up, and had no curtain. An old oak-cabinet 
against the wall, surmounted by the inevitable plaster torso, 
and studies of .hands and arms, had lost one of its supporting 
fee-t, and looked as though momentarily about to topple 
forward. A table in the middle of the room was crowded 
with litter, amongst which a pewter-pot reared itself con- 
spicuously. Over an old sofa were thrown a big rough 
Inverness-cape, a wideawake hat, and a thick stick; while 
on a broken, ragged, but theatrically-tawdry arm-chair, by 
the easel, were a big palette already "set," a colour-box, 
and a sheaf of brushes. Mr. Potts was dressed in a shep- 
herd's-plaid shooting coat, adorned here and there with 
dabs of paint, and with semi-burnt brown patches, the result 
of the incautious dropping of incandescent tobacco and 
vesuvians. He had on a pair of loose rough trousers, red- 
morocco slippers without heels, and he wore no neckcloth ; 
but his big turned-down shirt-collar was open at the throat. 
He wore no beard, but had a large sweeping Austrian mous- 
tache, which curled fiercely at the ends ; had thin brown 
hair, light blue eyes, and the freshest and healthiest of com- 
plexions. No amount of late hours, of drinking and smoking, 
could apparently have any effect on this baby-skin ; and 
under the influence of cold water and yellow soap, both of 
which he used in large quantities, he seemed destined to 
remain — so far as his complexion was concerned — " beautiful 
for ever," — or at least until long after Madame Rachel's 
clients had seen the worthlessness of pigments. Looking at 
him as he sat there — his back bent nearly double, his eyes 
fixed on his picture, his pipe fixed stiffly between his teeth, 
and his big bony hands clasped in front of him— there was 
no mistaking him for anything but a gentleman ; ill-dressed, 
slatternly, if you like ; but a true gentleman, every inch of 
him. 



56 Land at Last. 

The " trotter " outside being tugged with tremendous 
violence, roused him from his reverie, and he got up and 
opened the door, saying, as he did so, "Why didn't you 
ring ? I would, if I'd been you. You're in the bell-hanging 
line, I should think, by the way you jerked my wire. Hollo, 
Bowker, my boy ! is it you ? What's the matter ? Are you 
chivied by a dun on the staircase, or fainting for a pull at 
the pewter, that you come with such a ring as that ? Bring 
your body in, old man ; there's a wind here enough to shave 
you." 

Mr. Bowker preceded his friend into the room, looked 
into the pewter-pot, drained it, wiped his beard with a 
handkerchief, which he took out of his hat, and said, in a 
solemn deep voice : " Potts, my pipkin, how goes it?" 

"Pretty well, old man, pretty well — considering the 
weather. And you?" 

"Your William se fiorte bien. Hallo !" glancing at the 
easel, while he took a pipe from his pocket and filled it from 
a jar on the table; "hallo! something new! What's the 
subject? Who is the Spanish party in tights? and what's 
the venerable buffer in the clerical get-up of the period 
putting out his hand about?" 

" Oh, it's a scene from Gil Bias, where the Archbishop of 
Grenada discharges him, you know." 

" No, I don't, and I don't want to hear ; your William, 
dear boy, has discovered that life is too short to have any- 
thing explained to him : if he don't see it at first, he let's it 
pass. The young party's right leg is out of drawing, my 
chick ; just give your William a bit of chalk. There — not 
being a patient at the Orthopaedic Hospital — that's where his 
foot would come to. The crimson of the reverend gent's 
gown is about as bad as anything I've seen for a long time, 
dear boy. Hand over the palette and brushes for two 
minutes. Your William is a rum old skittle ; but if there's 
one thing he knows about, it is colour." And Charley, who 
knew that, with all his eccentricity, Mr. Bowker, or " your 
William," as he always spoke of himself, was a thorough 
master of his art, handed him what he required, and sat by 
watching him. 

A fat bald-headed man with a grizzled beard, a large 
paunch and flat splay feet, badly dressed and not too clean, 
Mr. Bowker did not give one the idea of ever having been 



Chez Potts. 57 

an "object of interest" to any one save the waiter at the 
tavern where he dined, or the tobacconist where he bought 
his Cavendish. But yet there had been a day when bright 
eyes grew brighter at his approach, tiny ears latticed with 
chestnut-hair had eagerly drunk in the music of his voice, 
gentle hands had thrilled beneath his touch. He had bright 
blue eyes himself then, and long hair, and a slim figure. 
He was young Mr. Bowker, whose first pictures exhibited 
at Somerset House had made such a sensation, and who 
was so much noticed by Sir David Wilkie, and for whom 
Mr. Northcote prophesied such a future, and whom Mr. 
Fuseli called a "coot prave poy !" He was the young Mr. 
Bowker who was recommended by Sir Thomas Lawrence as 
drawing-master to the lovely young wife of old Mr. Van 
Den Bosch, the Dutch banker and financier long resident 
in London. He was "that scoundrel Bowker, sir," who, 
being wildly romantic, fell head-over-ears in love with his 
pupil ; and finding that she was cruelly ill-treated by the old 
ruffian her husband, ran away with her to Spain, and by that 
rash act smashed-up his career and finally settled himself for 
ever. Old Van Den Bosch got a divorce, and died, leaving 
all his money to his nephews ; and then William Bowker 
and the woman he had eloped with returned to England, to 
find himself universally shunned and condemned. His art 
was as good, nay a thousand times better than ever ; but 
they would not hear of him at the Royal Academy now; 
would not receive his pictures ; would not allow the mention 
of his name. Patrons turned their backs on him, debts 
accumulated, the woman for whom he had sacrificed every- 
thing died,- — penitent so far as she herself was concerned, 
but adoring her lover to the last, and calling down blessings 
on him with her latest breath. And then William Bowker 
strove no more, but accepted his position and sunk into 
what he was, a kindly, jolly, graceless vagabond, doing no 
harm, but very little good. He had a little private money 
on which he lived ; and as time progressed, some of his 
patrons, who found he painted splendidly and cheaply, 
came back to him and gave him commissions ; but he never 
again attempted to regain his status ; and so long as he had 
enough to supply his simple daily wants, seemed content. 
He was a great favourite with some half-dozen young men 
of Charley Potts's set, who had a real love and regard for 



58 Land at Last. 

him, and was never so happy as when helping them with 
advice and manual assistance. 

Charley watched him at his work, and saw with delight 
the archbishop's robe gradually growing all a-glow beneath 
the master's touch ; and then, to keep him in good-humour 
and amused, began to talk, telling him a score of anecdotes, 
and finally asking him if he'd heard anything of Tommy 
Smalt. 

"Tommy Smalt, sir?" cried Bowker, in his cheery voice ; 
" Tommy Smalt, sir, is in clover ! Your William has been 
able to put Tommy on to a revenue of at least thirty 
shillings a-week. Tommy is now the right-hand man of 
Jacobs of Newman Street; and the best judges say that 
there are no Ostades, Jan Steens, or Gerard Dows like 
Tommy's." 

"What do you mean? — copies?" 

" Copies ! no, sir : originals." 

"Originals!" 

" Certainly ! original Tenierses, of boors drinking ; Wou- 
vermanns, not forgetting the white horse; or Jan Steens, with 
the never-failing episode ; — all carefully painted by Tommy 
Smalt and his fellow-labourers ! Ah, Jacobs is a wonderful 
man! There never was such a fellow; he sticks at nothing; 
and when he finds a man who can do his particular work, 
he keeps him in constant employment." 

"Well, but is the imposition never detected? Don't the 
pictures look new?" 

" Oh, most verdant of youths, of course not ! The 
painting is clobbered with liquorice-water ; and the varnish 
is so prepared that it cracks at once ; and the signature in 
the corner is always authentic ; and there's a genuine look 
of cloudy vacancy and hopeless bankruptcy about the whole 
that stamps it at once to the connoisseur as the real thing. 
Tommy's doing a ' Youth's Head ' by Rembrandt now, 
which ought to get him higher pay ; it ought indeed. It's 
for a Manchester man. They're very hot about Rembrandts 
at Manchester." 

" Well, you've put me up to a new wrinkle. And Jacobs 
lives by this?" 

" Lives by it ! ay, and lives like a prince too. Mrs. J. to 
fetch him every day in an open barouche, and coachman 
and footman in skyblue livery, and all the little J.'s hanging 



Chez Potts. 59 

over the carriage-doors, rendering Newman Street dark with 
the shadow of their noses. Lives by it ! ay, and why not ? 
There will always be fools in the world, thank Heaven ! — or 
how should you and I get on, Charley, my boy? — and so 
long as people will spend money on what they know nothing 
about, for the sake of cutting-out their friends, gaining a 
spurious reputation for taste, or cutting a swell as ' patrons 
of the fine-arts,' — patrons indeed ! that word nearly chokes 
me ! — it's quite right that they should be pillaged and done. 
No man can love art in the same manner that he can love 
pancakes. He must know something about it, and have 
some appreciation of it. Now no man with the smallest 
knowledge would go to Jacobs ; and so I say that the lords 
and railway-men and cotton-men who go there simply as a 
piece of duff — to buy pictures as they would carpets — are 
deuced well served out. There ! your William has not 
talked so much as that in one breath for many a long day. 
The pewter's empty. Send for some more beer, and let's 
have a damp ; my throat's as dry as a lime-burner's wig." 

Charley Potts took up the pewter-measure, and going 
on to the landing outside the door, threw open the 
staircase-window, and gave a shrill whistle. This twice 
repeated had some effect ! for a very much-be-ribboned 
young lady in the bar of the opposite public-house looked 
up, and nodded with great complaisance ; and then Charley, 
having made a solemn bow, waved the empty quart-pot 
three times round his head. Two minutes afterwards a 
bare-headed youth, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up to his 
shoulders, crossed the road, carefully bearing a pasteboard 
hat-box, with which he entered the house, and which he 
delivered into Mr. Potts' hands. 

" Good boy, Richard ! never forget the hat-box; come for 
it this evening, and take back both the empty pewters in it. 
— It would never do, Bowker, my boy, to have beer — vulgar 
beer, sir — in its native pewter come into a respectable house 
like this. The pious parties, who buy their rattletraps and 
properties of old Lectern down below, would be scandalised ; 
and poor little Mossoo woman Stetti would lose her swell 
connection. So Caroline and I — that's Caroline in the bar, 
with the puce-coloured ribbons — arranged this little dodge ; 
and it answers first-rate." 

"Ha — a!" said Mr. Bowker, putting flown the tankard 



60 Land at Last. 

half-empty, and drawing a long breath ; " beer is to your 
William what what's-his-name is to thingummy; which, 
being interpreted, means that he can't get on without it. I 
never take a big pull at a pewter without thinking of our 
Geoff. How is our Geoff?" 

" Our Geoff is — hush ! some one coming up stairs. 
What's to-day? Friday. The day I told the tailor to call. 
Hush!" 

The footsteps came creaking up the stairs until they 
stopped outside Charley Potts' door, on which three peculiar 
blows were struck, — one very loud, then two in rapid 
succession. 

"A friend !" said Charley, going to the door and opening 
it. " Pass, friend, and give the countersign ! Hallo, Flexor ! 
is it you? I forgot our appointment for this morning. 
Come in." 

It was, indeed, the great model, who, fresh-shaved, and 
with his hair neatly poodled under his curly-brimmed hat, 
entered the room with a swagger, which, when he perceived 
a stranger, he allowed to subside into an elaborate bow. 

" Now then, Flexor, get to work ! we won't mind my 
friend here ; he knows all this sort of game of old," said 
Charley; while Flexor began to arrange himself into the 
position of the expelled secretary of the archbishop. 

"Ay, and I know Mr. Flexor of old, that's another thing!" 
said Bowker, with a deep chuckle, expelling a huge puff of 
smoke. 

"Do you, sir?" said Flexor, still rigid in the Gil-Bias 
position, and never turning his head; "maybe, sir; many 
gents knows Flexor." 

" Yes ; but many gents didn't know Flexor frve-and-twenty 
years ago, when he stood for ' Mercutio discoursing of 
Queen Mab.'" 

"Lor' a mussy!" cried Flexor, forgetting all about his duty, 
parting the smoke with his hand and bending down to look 
into William's face. " It's Mr. Bowker, and I ought to have 
knowed him by the voice. And how are you, sir ? hearty 
you look, though you've got a paucity of nobthatch, and 
what 'air you 'ave is that gray, you might be your own 
grandfather. Why, I haven't seen you since you was gold- 
medallist at the 'cademy, 'cept once when you come with 
Mrs. " 



Chez Potts, 6 1 

" There, that'll clo, Flexor ! I'm alive still, you see ; and 
so I see are you. And your wife, is she alive ?" 

" O yes, sir ; but, Lord, how different from what you 
know'd her ! None of your Wenuses, nor Dalilys, nor Nell 
Gwyns now ! she's growed stout and cumbersome, and 
never sits 'cept some gent wants a Mrs. Primrose in that 
everlastin' AVicar, or a old woman a-scoldin' a gal because 
she wants to marry a poor cove, or somethin' in that line ; 
and then I says, ' Well, Jane, you may as well earn a shillin' 
an hour as any one else,' I says." 

"And you've been a model all these years, Flexor?" 

"Well, no sir — off and on; but I've always come back to 
it. I was a actor for three years ; did Grecian stators, — 
Ajax defyin' the lightning Slave a-listenin' to conspirators; 
Boy a-sharpenin' his knife, and that game, you know, in a 
cirkiss. But I didn't like it ; they're a low lot, them actors, 
with no feelin' for art. And then I was a gentleman's 
servant ; but that wouldn't do ; they do dam' and cuss their 
servants so, the gentlemen do, as I couldn't stand it ; and I 
was a mute." 

" A mute ! — what, a funeral mute ?" 

"Yes, sir; black-job business; and wery good that is, — 
plenty of pleasant comp'ny and agreeable talk, and nice 
rides in the summer time on the 'earses to all the pleasant 
simmetries in the suburbs ! But in the winter it's frightful ! 
and my last job' I was nearly killed. We had a job at 
'Ampstead, in the debth of snow ; and i| was frightful cold 
on the top of the 'Eath. It was the party's good lady as 
was going to be interred, and the party himself were frightful 
near ; in fact, a reg'lar screw. Well, me and my mate had 
been standin' outside the 'ouse-door with the banners in our 
'ands for an hour, until we was so froze we could scarcely 
hold the banners. So I says, I won't stand no longer, I 
says ; and I gev a soft rap, and told the servant we must 
have a drop of somethin' short, or we should be killed with 
cold. The servant goes and tells her master, and what do 
you think he says? 'Drink!' he says. 'Nonsense !'. he 
says ; ' if they're cold, let 'em jump about and warm 'emselves,' 
he says. Fancy a couple of mutes with their banners in 
their 'ands a-jumpin' about outside the door just before the 
party was brought out. So that disgusted me, and I gev it 
up, and come back to the old game agen." 



6 2 Land at Last. 

"Now, Flexor," said Charley, "if you've finished your 
biography, get back again." 

"All right, sir!" and again Flexor became rigid, as the 
student of Santillane. 

" What were we talking of when Flexor arrived ? O, I 
remember; I was asking you about Geoff Ludlow. What 
of him?" 

" Well, sir, Geoff Ludlow has made a thundering coap at 
last. The other night at the Titians he sold a picture to 
Stompff for two hundred pounds ; more than that, Stompft 
promised him no end of commissions." 

"That's first-rate ! Your William pledges him !" and Mr. 
Bowker finished the stout. 

" He'll want all he can make, gentlemen," said Flexor, 
who, seeing the pewter emptied, became cynical ; " he'll 
want all he can make, if he goes on as he's doin' now." 

"What do you mean?" asked Bowker. 

" He's in love, Mr. Ludlow is ; that's wot I mean. That 
party — you know, Mr. Potts — as you brought to our place 
that night — he's been to see her every day, he has ; and my 
missis says, from what she 'ave seen and 'eard — well, that's 
neither 'ere nor there," said Flexor, checking himself abruptly 
as he remembered that the keyhole was the place whence 
Mrs. Flexor's information had been derived. 

Charley Potts gave a loud whistle, and said, "The devil !" 
then turning to Bowker, he was about to tell the story of the 
wet night's adventure, but William putting up his finger 
warningly, grunted out " Nachher /" and Charley, who 
understood German, ceased his chatter and went on with 
his painting. 

When the sitting was over, and Flexor had departed, 
William Bowker returned to the subject, saying, " Now, 
Charley, tell your William all about this story of Geoff and 
his adventure." 

Charley Potts narrated it circumstantially, Bowker sitting 
grimly by and puffing his pipe the while. When he had 
finished, Bowker never spoke for full five minutes ; but his 
brow was knit, and his teeth clenched round his pipe. At 
length he said, " This is a bad business, so far as I see j a 
devilish bad business ! If the girl were in Geoff's own 
station, or if he were younger, it wouldn't so much matter ; 
but Geoff must be forty now, and at that age a man's deuced 



Throwmg the Fly. 63 

hard to turn from any thing he gets into his head. Well, we 
must wait and see. I'd rather it were you, Charley, by a 
mile; one might have some chance then. But you never 
think of any thing of that sort, eh?" 

What made Charley Potts colour as he said, " Well — not 
in Geoff's line, at all events?" 

William Bowker noticed the flush, and said ruefully, " Ah, 
I see ! Always the way ! Now let's go and get some beef 
or something to eat : I'm hungry." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THROWING THE FLY. 

MR. FLEXOR was by nature mendacious ; indeed his 
employers used pleasantly to remark, that when he 
did not lie, it was simply by accident ; but in what he had 
mentioned to Charley Potts about Geoffrey Ludlow's visits 
to the nameless female then resident in his, Flexor's, house, 
he had merely spoken the truth. To be sure there had 
been an arriere fiensee in his remark; the fact being that 
Flexor objected to matrimony as an institute amongst his 
patrons. He found that by an artist in a celibate state beer 
was oftener sent for, donations of cigars were more frequent, 
cupboards were more constantly unlocked, and irregularities 
of attendance on his part, consequent on the frivolities of 
the preceding night, were more easily overlooked, than 
when there was a lady to share confidence and keys, and to 
regard all models, both male and female, as " horrid 
creatures." But although Mr. Flexor had spoken somewhat 
disparagingly of Geoffrey's frequent visits, and had by his 
hints roused up a certain amount of suspicion in the breast: 
of Charley Potts and that grim old cynic William Bowker, 
he was himself far from knowing what real ground for 
apprehension existed, or how far matters had progressed, at 
least with one of the parties concerned. 

For Geoffrey Ludlow was hard hit ! In vain he attempted 
to argue with himself that all he had done, was doing, and 
might do, was but prompted by benevolence. A secret 
voice within him told him that his attempts at self-deceit 
were of the feeblest, and that, did he but dare to confess it, 



64 Land at Last. 

he knew that there was in this woman whom he had rescued 
from starvation an attraction more potent than he had ever 
yet submitted to. It was, it may be said, his duty to call 
and see how she was getting on, to learn that she wanted 
for nothing, to hear from her own lips that his orders for her 
comfort had been obeyed ; but it was not his duty to sit 
watching jealously every glance of her eye, every turn of her 
head, every motion of her lithe fingers. It was not his duty 
to bear away with him recollections of how she sat when she 
said this or answered that ; of the manner in which, following 
a habit of hers, she would push back the thick masses of her 
gleaming hair, and tuck them away behind her pretty ears ; 
or, following another habit, she would drum petulantly on 
the floor with her little foot, when talking of any thing 
that annoyed her — as, for instance, Mrs. Flexor's prying 
curiosity. 

What was it that caused him to lie awake at night, tossing 
from side to side on his hot pillow, ever before him the 
deep-violet eyes, the pallid face set in masses of deep-red 
hair, the slight frail figure ? What was it that made his heart 
beat loudly, his breath come thickly, his whole being tingle 
with a strange sensation — now ecstatic delight, now dull 
blank misery? Not philanthropy, I trow. The superin- 
tendents of boys' reformatories and refuges for the houseless 
poor may, in thinking over what good they have achieved, 
enjoy a comfortable amount of self-satisfaction and proper 
pride ; but I doubt if the feeling ever rises to this level of 
excitement. Not much wonder if Geoffrey himself, suffering 
acutely under the disease, knew not, or refused to avow to 
himself, any knowledge of the symptoms. Your darling 
child, peacefully sleeping in his little bed, shall show here 
and there an angry skin-spot, which you think heat or cold, 
or any thing else, until the experienced doctor arrives, and 
with a glance pronounces it scarlet-fever. Let us be 
thankful, in such a case, that the prostrate patient is young. 
Geoffrey's was as dire a malady, and one which, coming on 
at forty years of age, usually places the sufferer in a perilous 
state. It was called Love; not the ordinary sober incli- 
nation of a middle-aged man, not that thin line of fire 
quivering amongst a heap of ashes which betokens the faded 
passion of the worn and sated voluptuary ; this was boy-love, 
calf-love, mad-spooniness — any thing by which you can 



Throwing the 7'Vv. Q'j 

express the silliest, wildest, pleasanlest, most miserable 
phase of human existence. It never comes but once to any- 
one. The caprices of the voluptuary are as like to each 
other as peas or grains of sand ; the platonic attachments or 
the sentimental liaisons indulged in by foolish persons of 
both sexes with nothing to do may have some slight shade 
of distinction, but are equally wanting in backbone and vis. 
Not to man or woman is it given to be ever twice " in love " 
— a simple phrase, which means every thing, but needs very 
little explanation. My readers will comprehend what I 
want to convey, and will not require my feeble efforts in 
depicting the state. Suffice it to say, that Geoffrey Ludlow, 
who had hitherto gone through life scot-free, not because he 
was case-hardened, not because he was infection-proof, or 
that he had run no risks, but simply from the merest chance, 
— now fell a victim to the disease, and dropped powerless 
before its attack. 

He did not even strive to make head against it much. A 
little of his constitutional wavering and doubtfulness came 
into play for a short time, suggesting that this passion — for 
such he must allow it — was decidedly an unworthy one; 
that at present he knew nothing of the girl's antecedents ; 
and that her actual state did not promise much for all she 
had to tell of what had gone before. At certain times too, 
when things present themselves in their least roseate garb, 
notably on waking in the morning, for instance, he allowed, 
to himself, that he was making a fool of himself; but the 
confidence extended no farther. And then, as the day grew, 
and the sun came out, and he touched up his picture, and 
thought of the commissions Mr. Stompff had promised him, 
he became brighter and more hopeful, and he allowed his 
thoughts to feast on the figure then awaiting him in Little 
Flotsam Street, and he put by his sheaf of brushes and his 
palette, and went up and examined himself in the glass over 
the mantelpiece. He had caught himself doing this very 
frequently within the last few days, and, half-chuckling 
inwardly, had acknowledged that it was a bad sign. But 
though he laughed, he tweaked out the most prominent gray 
hairs in his beard, and gave his necktie a more knowing 
twist, and removed the dabs of stray paint from his shooting- 
coat. Straws thrown up show which way the wind blows, 

F 



66 Land at Last. 

and even such little sacrifices to vanity as these were in 
Geoffrey Ludlow very strong signs indeed. 

He had paid three visits to Little Flotsam Street ; and on 
the fourth morning, after a very poor pretence of work, he 
was at the looking-glass settling himself preparatory to again 
setting out. Ever since that midnight adventure after the 
Titians meeting, Geoffrey had felt it impossible to take his 
usual daily spell at the easel, had not done five-pounds' 
worth of real work in the whole time, had sketched-in and 
taken out, and pottered, and smoked over his canvas, 
perfectly conscious that he was doing no good, utterly 
unable to do any better. On this fourth morning he had 
been even more unsuccessful than usual ; he was highly 
nervous ; he could not even set his palette properly, and by 
no manner of means could he apply his thoughts to his 
work. He had had a bad night ; that is, he had woke with 
a feeling that this kind of penny-journal romance, wherein a 
man finds a starving girl in the streets and falls desperately 
in love with her, could go on no longer in London and in 
the nineteenth century. She was better now, probably 
strong enough to get about ; he would learn her history, so 
much of it at least as she liked to tell ; and putting her in 
some way of earning an honest livelihood, take his leave 
of her, and dismiss her from his thoughts. 

He arrived at this determination in his studio ; he kept it 
as he walked through the streets ; he wavered horribly when 
he came within sight of the door ; and by the time he 
knocked he had resolved to let matters take their chance, 
and to act as occasion might suggest. It was not Mrs. 
Flexor who opened the door to him, but that worthy 
woman's youngest plague, Reg'las, who, with a brown 
eruption produced by liquorice round his lips, nodded his 
head, and calmly invited the visitor, as he would have done 
any one else, to "go up 'tairs." Geoffrey entered, patted the 
boy's head, and stopped at the parlour-door, at which 
he gave a low rap, and immediately turning the handle, 
walked in. 

She was lying as usual on the sofa, immediately opposite 
the door ; but, what he had never seen before, her hair was 
freed from the confining comb, and was hanging in full 
luxuriance over her shoulders. Great heavens, how beautiful 



Throwing the Fly. 6 j 

she looked ! There had been a certain piquancy and chie 
in her appearance when her hair had been taken saucily off 
her face and behind her ears; but they were nothing as 
compared to the profound expression of calm holy resignation 
in that dead-white face, set in that deep dead-gold frame of 
hair. Geoff started when he saw it ; was it a Madonna of 
Raphael's, or a St. Teresa of Guido's, which flashed across 
his mind? And as he looked she raised her eyes, and a 
soft rosy flush spread over her face, and melted as quickly 
as it came. He seated himself on a chair by her side as 
usual, and took her hand as usual, the blood tingling in 
his fingers as he touched hers — as usual. She was the first 
to speak. 

" You are very early this morning. I scarcely expected 
you so soon — as you may see ; " and with a renewed flush 
she took up the ends of her hair, and was about to twist 
them up, when Geoffrey stopped her. 

"Leave it as it is," said he in a low tone ; "it could not 
be better ; leave it as it is. " 

She looked at him as he spoke ; not a full straight glance, 
but through half-closed lids ; a prolonged gaze, — half-dreamy, 
half-intense ; then released her hair, and let it again fall over 
her shoulders in a rich red cloud. 

" You are much better?" 

"Thanks to you, very much ; thanks to you!" and her 
little hand came out frankly, and was speedily swallowed up 
in his big palm. 

"No thanks at all; that is — well, you know. Let us 
change the subject. I came to say — that — that — " 

"You hesitate because you are afraid of hurting my feel- 
ings. I think I can understand. I have learnt the world — 
God knows in no easy school ; you -came to say that I had 
been long enough a pensioner on your charity, and now 
must make my own way. Isn't that it ?" 

" No, indeed ; not, that is not entirely what I meant. 
You see — our meeting — so strange — " 

" Strange enough for London and this present day. You 
found me starving, dying, and you took care of me ; and 
you knew nothing of me — not even my name — not even my 
appearance." 

There was a something harsh and bitter in her tone 
which Geoffrey had never remarked before. It jarred on 

f z 



68 Land at Last. 

his ear ; but he did not further notice it. His eyes dropped 
a little as he said, " No, I didn't ; I do not know your 
name." 

She looked up at him from under her eyelids ; and the 
harshness had all faded out of her voice as she said, " My 
name is Margaret Dacre." She stopped, and looked at 
him ; but his face only wore its grave honest smile. Then 
she suddenly raised herself on the sofa, and looking straight 
into his face, said hurriedly, " You are a kind man, Mr. 
Ludlow; a kind, generous, honourable man; there are 
many men would have given me food and shelter — there are 
very few who would have done it unquestioning, as you have." 

" You were my guest, Miss Dacre, and that was enough, 
though the temptation was strong. How one evidently 
born and bred a lady could have — " 

"Ah, now," said she, smiling fainting, "you are throwing 
off your bonds, and all man's curiosity is at work." 

" No, on my honour ; but — I don't know whether you 
know, but any one acquainted with the Avorld would see that 
— gad ! I scarcely know how to put it — but — fact is, that — 
people would scarcely understand — you must excuse me, but 
— but the position, Miss Dacre !" and Geoff pushed his 
hands through his hair, and knew that his cheeks were 
flaming. 

" I see what you mean," said she, " and you are only 
explaining what I have for the last day or two felt myself; 
that the — the position must be altered. But you have so far 
been my friend, Mr. Ludlow — for I suppose the preserver 
of one's life is to be looked upon as a friend, at all events as 
one actuated by friendly motives — that I must ask you to 
advise me how to support it." 

" It would be impossible to advise unless — I mean, unless 
one knew, or had some idea — what, in fact, one had been 
accustomed to. 

The girl sat up on the sofa, and this time looked him 
steadily in the face for a minute or so. Then she said, in a 
calm unbroken voice, " You are coming to what I knew 
must arise, to what is always asked, but what I hitherto have 
always refused to tell. You, however, have a claim to know 
— what I suppose people would call my history." Her thin 
lips were tightly pressed and her nostrils curved in scorn as 
she said these words. Geoffrey marked the change, and 



Throwing the Fly. 69 

spoke out at once, all his usual hesitation succumbing before 
his earnestness of purpose. 

"I have asked nothing," said he; "please to remember 
that; and further, I wish to hear nothing. You are my 
guest for so long as it pleases you to remain in that position. 
When you wish to go, you will do so, regretted but cer- 
tainly unquestioned." If Geoffrey Ludlow ever looked hand- 
some, it was at this moment. He was a little nettled at 
being suspected of patronage, and the annoyance flushed his 
cheek and fired his eyes. 

" Then I am to be a kind of heroine of a German fairy- 
tale ; to appear, to sojourn for a while — then to fade away 
and never to be heard of ever after, save by the good fortune 
which I leave behind me to him who had entertained an 
angel unawares. Not the last part of the story, I fear, Mr. 
Ludlow ; nor indeed any part of it. I have accepted your 
kindness ; I am grateful — God knows how grateful for it — 
and now, being strong again — you need not raise your eye- 
brows ; I am strong, am I not, compared with the feeble 
creature you found in the streets ? — I will fade away, leaving 
gratitude and blessings behind me." 

" But what do you intend to do ?" 

"Ah! there you probe me beyond any possibility of 
reply. I shall—" 

" I — I have a notion, Miss Dacre, just come upon me. 
It was seeing you with your hair down — at least, I think it 
was — suggested it ; but I'm sure it's a good one. To sit, 
you know, as a model — of course I mean your face, you 
know, and hair, and all that sort of thing, so much in vogue 
just now ; and so many fellows would be delighted to get 
studies of you — the pre-Raphaelite fellows, you know ; and 
it isn't much — the pay, you know : but when one gets a 
connexion — and I'm sure that I could recommend — O, no 
end of fellows." It was not that this was rather a longer 
speech than usual that made Geoffrey terminate it abruptly ; 
it was the expression in Margaret Dacre's gray eyes. 

" Do you think I could become a model, Mr. Ludlow — at 
the beck and call of every man who chose to offer me so 
much per hour? Would you wish to see me thus?" and as 
she said the last words she knit her brows, leaning forward 
and looking straight at him under her drooping lids. 

Geoffrey's eyes fell before that peculiar glance, and he 



70 Land at Last. 

pushed his hands through his hair in sheer doubtful des- 
peration. 

" No !" he said, after a minute's pause ; "it wouldn't do. 
I hadn't thought of that. You see, I — O, by Jove, another 
idea ! You play ? Yes, I knew you did by the look of 
your hands ! and talk French and German, I daresay ? Ah, 
I thought so ! Well, you know, I give lessons in some 
capital families — drawing and water-colour sketching — and 
I'm constantly asked if I know of governesses. Now what's 
to prevent my recommending you?" 

" What, indeed ? You have known me so long ! You 
are so thorougly acquainted with my capabilities — so per 
suaded of my respectability !" 

The curved lips, the petulant nostril, the harsh bitter 
voice again ! Geoff winced under them. " I think you are 
a little prejudiced," he began. " A little — " 

" A little nothing ! Listen, Mr. Ludlow ! You have 
saved me from death, and you are kind enough to wish me, 
under your auspices, to begin life again. Hear, first, what 
was my former life. Hear it, and then see the soundness of 
your well-intentioned plans. My father was an infantry 
captain, who was killed in the Crimea. After the news came 
of his death, my mother's friends, wealthy tradespeople, 
raised a subscription to pay her an annuity of 150/., on con- 
dition of her never troubling them again. She accepted this, 
and she and I went to live for cheapness at Tenby in Wales. 
There was no break in my life until two years since, when I 
was eighteen years old. Up to that time, school, constant 
practice at home (for I determined to be well educated), 
and attendance on my mother, an invalid, formed my life. 
Then came the usual character — without which the drama of 
woman's life is incomplete — a man !" 

She hesitated for a moment, and looked up as Geoffrey 
Ludlow leaned forward, breathing thickly through his 
nostrils ; then she continued — . 

" This one was a soldier, and claimed acquaintance with 
a dead comrade's widow ; had his claim allowed, and came 
to us morning, noon, and night. A man of the world, they 
called him ; could sit and talk with my mother of her hus- 
band's virtues and still-remembered name, and press my 
hand, and gaze into my eyes, and whisper in my ear when- 
ever her head was turned." 



Throwing the Fly. 7 1 

" And you ?" 

'■And I ! What would a girl do, brought up at a sleepy 
watering-place, and seeing nobody but the curate or the 
doctor ? I listened to his every word, I believed his every 
look ; and when he said to me, ' On such a night fly with 
me,' I fled with him without remorse." 

Geoffrey Ludlow must have anticipated something of this 
kind, and yet when he heard it, he dropped his head and 
shook it, as though under the effect of a staggering blow. 
The action was not unnoticed by Margaret. 

"Ah," said she, in low tones and with a sad smile, "I 
saw how your schemes would melt away before my story." 

This time it was his hand that came out and caught hers 
in its grip. 

" Ah, wait until you have heard the end, now very close 
at hand. The old, old story :, a coming marriage, which 
never came, protracted and deferred now for one excuse, 
now for another, — the fear of friends, the waiting for pro- 
motion, the — ah, every note in the whole gamut of lies ! 
And then — " 

" Spare yourself and me — I know enough !" 

" No ; hear it out ! It is due to you, it is due to me. A 
sojourn in Italy, a sojourn in England — gradual coolness, 
final flight. But such flight ! One line to say that he was 
ruined, and would not drag me down in his degradation — no 
hope of a future meeting — no provision for present want. I 
lived for a time by the sale of what he had given me, — first 
jewels, then luxuries, then — clothes. And then, just as I 
dropped into death's jaws, you found me." 

" Thank God !" said Geoffrey earnestly, still retaining the 
little hand within his own ; " thank God ! I can hear no 
more to-day — yes ; one thing, his name ?" 

" His name," said she, with fixed eyes, " I have never 
mentioned to mortal ; but to you I will tell it. His name 
was Leonard Brookfield." 

" Leonard Brookfield," repeated Geoffrey. " I shall not 
forget it. Now adieu ! We shall meet to-morrow." 

He bowed over her hand and pressed it to his lips, then 
was gone ; but as his figure passed the window, she raised 
nerself upright, and ere he vanished from her sight, from 
between her compressed lips came the words, " At last ! 
at last !" 



78 Land at Last. 

CHAPTER IX. 

SUNSHINE IN THE SHADE. 

WHAT is a dull life? In what does the enjoyment of 
existence consist ? It is a comparative matter, 
after all, I fancy. A Londoner, cantering homeward down 
the Row, will lift his hat as he passes three horsemen 
abreast, the middle one of whom, comely, stout, and pleasant- 
looking, bows in return ; or, looking after an olive-coloured 
brougham with a white horse, out of the window of which 
looms a lined leery-looking face, will say, " How well Pam 
holds out !" and will go home to dinner without bestowing 
another thought on the subject; whereas the mere fact of 
having seen the Prince of Wales or Lord Palmerston 
would give a countryman matter for reflection and conversa- 
tion for a couple of days. There are even Londoners who 
look upon a performance of chamber-music, or a visit to the 
Polytechnic Institute as an excitement ; while in a provincial 
town to attend a lecture on " Mnemonics," or the dinner of 
the farmers' club, is the acme of dissipation. Some lives 
are passed in such a whirl that even the occasional advent 
among their kindred of the great date-marker, Death, is 
scarcely noticed ; others dwindle away with such unvarying 
pulsations that the purchase of a new bonnet, the lameness 
of an old horse, the doctor's visit, the curate's cough, are all 
duly set down as notabilia worthy to be recorded. Who 
does not recollect the awe and reverence with which one 
regarded the Bishop of Bosphorus, when, a benevolent 
seraph in a wig (they wore wigs in those days) and lawn 
sleeves, he arrived at the parish church for the confirmation- 
. service ? It was exciting to see him ; it was almost too 
much to hear his voice ; but now, if you are a member of 
the Athenseum Club, you may see him, and two or three 
other prelates, reading the evening papers, or drinking their 
pint of sherry with the joint, and speaking to the waiters in 
voices akin to those of ordinary mortals ; may even see him 
sitting next to Belmont the poet, whose Twilight Musings so 
delighted your youth, but whom you now find to be a fat 
man with a red face and a tendency to growl if there be not 
enough schalot sent up with his steak. 



Sunshine in the Shade. 73 

If there were ever a man who should have felt the influ- 
ence of a dull life, it was Lord Caterham, who never repined. 
And yet it would be difficult to imagine any thing more 
terribly lonely than was that man's existence. Dressed by 
his servant, his breakfast over, and he wheeled up to his 
library-table, there was the long day before him ; how was he 
to get through it ? Who would come to see him ? His 
father, perhaps, for five minutes, with a talk about the 
leading topic treated of in the Times, a remark about the 
change in the weather, a hope that his son would " get out 
into the sunshine," and as speedy a departure as could be 
decently managed. His mother, very rarely, and then only 
for a frosty peck at his cheek, and a tittered hope that lie 
was better. His brother Lionel, when in town, when not else 
engaged, when not too seedy after " a night of it," — his 
brother Lionel, who would throw himself into an easy-chair, 
and, kicking out his slippered feet, tell Caterham what a " rum 
fellow" he, Lionel, thought him; what a "close file;" what 
a "reserved, oyster-like kind of a cove!" Other visitors 
occasionally. Algy Barford, genial, jolly, and quaint; always 
welcome for his bright sunshiny face, his equable temper, his 
odd salted remarks on men and things. A bustling apothecary, 
with telescopic shoulders and twinkling eyelids, who peered 
down Lord Caterham's throat like a magpie looking into a 
bone, and who listened to the wheezings of Lord Caterham's 
chest with as much intentness as a foreigner in the Opera-pit 
to the prayer in Der Freischutz. Two or three lounging 
youths, fresh from school or college, who were pleased to go 
away afterwards and talk of their having been with him, 
partly because he was a lord, partly because he was a man 
whose name was known in town, and one with whom it was 
rather kudos to be thought intimate. There are people who, 
under such circumstances, would have taken their servants into 
their confidence; but Lord Caterham was not one of these. 
Kindly and courteous to all, he yet kept his servant at the 
greatest distance; and the man knew that to take the slightest 
liberty was more than his place was worth. There were no 
women to talk with this exile from his species ; there were 
none on sufficiently intimate footing to call on him and sit 
with him, to talk frankly and unreservedly that pleasant 
• hatter which gives us the key-note to their characters; and 
for this at least Lord and Lady Beauport were unfeignedly 



74 Land at Last, 

thankful. Lord Beauport's knowledge of the world told him 
that there were women against whom his son's deformity 
and isolated state would be no defence, to whom his rank 
and position would be indefinable attractions, by whom he 
would probably be assailed, and with whom he had no 
chance of coping. Not bad women, not intrigantes,— such 
would have set forth their charms and wasted their dalliances 
in vain, — but clever heartless girls, brought up by match- 
making mothers, graduates in the great school of life, skilled 
in the deft and dexterous use of all aggressive weapons, 
unscrupulous as to the mode of warfare so long as victory 
was to be the result. In preventing Lord Caterham from 
making the acquaintance of any such persons, Lord Beauport 
took greater pains than he had ever bestowed on anything 
in connection with his eldest son ; and, aided by the astute 
generalship of his wife, he had succeeded wonderfully. 

Only once did there seem a chance of an enemy's scaling 
the walls and entering the citadel, and then the case was 
really serious. It was at an Eton and Harrow match at 
Lord's that Lord Caterham first saw Carry Chesterton. She 
came up hanging on the arm of her brother, Con Chesterton, 
the gentleman farmer, who had the ground outside Homer- 
shams, Lady Beauport's family place, and who begged to 
present his sister to Lord Caterham, of whom she had heard 
so much. A sallow-faced girl, with deep black eyes, arched 
brows, and raven hair in broad bands, with a high forehead 
and a chiselled nose and tight thin lips, was Carry Ches- 
terton ; and as she bent over Lord Caterham's chair and 
expressed her delight at the introduction, she shot a glance 
that went through Caterham's eyes, and into his very soul. 

" She was a poetess, was Carry, and all that sort of thing," 
said honest Con ; " and had come up to town to try and get 
some of her writings printed, you know, and that sort of 
thing ; and your lordship's reputation as a man of taste, you 
know, and that sort of thing, — if you'd only look at the stuff 
and give your opinion, and that sort of thing." 

" That sort of thing," i.e. the compulsory conversion into 
a Mecsenas, Lord Caterham had had tried-on before ; but 
only in the case of moon-struck men, never from such a pair 
of eyes. Never had he had the request indorsed in such 
a deep-toned thrilling voice ; and so he acquiesced, and a 
meeting was arranged for the morrow, when Con was to 



Sunshine in the Shade. 75 

bring Carry to St. Barnabas Square; and that night Lord 
Caterham lay in a pleasant state of fevered exitement, 
thinking of his expected visitor. Carry came next day, but 
not Con. Con had some arrangements to make about that 
dreadful yeomanry which took up so much of his time, to see 
Major Latchford or Lord Spurrier, the colonel, and arrange 
about their horrid evolutions ; but Carry came, and brought 
her manuscript book of poems. Would she read them ? she 
could, and did, in a deep low trainante voice, with wonderful 
art and pathos, illustrating them with elevations of her thick 
brows and with fervid glances from her black eyes. They 
were above the average of women's verse, had nothing 
namby-pamby in them, and were not merely flowing and 
musical, but strong and fervid ; they were full of passion, 
which was not merely a Byronic refrain, but had a warmth 
and novelty of its own. Lord Caterham was charmed with 
the verses, was charmed with the writer ; he might suggest 
certain improvements in them, none in her. He pointed 
out certain lines which might be altered ; and as he pointed 
them out, their hands met, touched but for an instant, and on 
looking up, his eyes lost themselves in hers. 

Ah, those hand-touches and eye-glances ! The oldest 
worldling has some pleasure in them yet, and can recall the 
wild ecstatic thrill which ran through him when he first 
experienced them in his salad-days. But we can conceive 
nothing of their effect on a man who, under peculiar circum- 
stances, had lived a reserved self-contained life until five-and- 
twenty years of age, — a man with keen imagination and warm 
passions, who had "never felt the kiss of love, nor maiden's 
hand in his," until his whole being glowed and tingled under 
the fluttering touch of Carry Chesterton's lithe fingers, and in 
the fiery gaze of her black eyes. She came again and again; 
and after every visit Lord Caterham's passion increased. She 
was a clever woman with a purpose, to the fulfilment of 
which her every word, her every action, tended. Softly, 
delicately, and with the greatest finesse, she held up to him 
the blank dreariness of his life, and showed him how it 
might be cheered and consoled. In a pitying rather than 
an accusing spirit, she pointed out the shortcomings of his 
own relatives, and indicated how, to a person in his position, 
there could be but one who should be all in all. This was 
all done with the utmost tact and refinement ; a sharp word, 



76 Land at Last. 

an appearance of eagerness, the slightest showing of the 
cards, and the game would have been spoilt; but Carry Ches- 
terton knew her work, and did it well. She had been duly 
presented by Lord Caterham to his father and mother, and 
had duly evoked first their suspicion, then their rage. At 
first it was thought that by short resolute measures the evil 
might be got rid of. So Lord Beauport spoke seriously to 
his son, and Lady Beauport spoke warningly; but all in vain. 
For the first time in his life Lord Caterham rebelled, and in 
his rebellion spoke his mind ; and in speaking his mind he 
poured forth all that bitterness of spirit which had been 
collecting and fermenting so long. To the crippled man's 
heartwrung wail of contempt and neglect, to his passionate 
appeal for some one to love and to be loved by, the parents 
had no reply. They knew that he had bitter cause for 
complaint ; but they also knew that he was now in pursuit 
of a shadow ; that he was about to assuage his thirst for love 
with Dead-Sea apples ; that the " set gray life and apathetic 
end" were better than the wild fierce conflict and the warm- 
ing of a viper in the fires of one's heart. Lady Beauport 
read Carry Chesterton like a book, saw her ends and aims, 
and told Lord Caterham plainly what they were. "This girl 
is attracted by your title and position, Caterham, — nothing 
else," she said, in her hard dry voice; "and the natural 
result has ensued." But that voice had never been softened 
by any infusion of maternal love. Her opinions had no 
weight with her son. He made no answer, and the subject 
dropped. 

Lionel Brakespere, duly apprised by his mother of what 
was going on, and urged to put a stop to it, took his turn at 
his brother, and spoke with his usual mess-room frankness, 
and in his usual engaging language. " Every body knew 
Carry Chesterton," he said, "all the fellows at the Rag 
knew her; at least all who'd been quartered in the neigh- 
bourhood of Flockborough, where she was a regular garrison 
hack, and had. been engaged to Spoonbill of the 18th 
Hussars, and jilted by Slummer of the 160th Rifles, and was 
as well known as the town-clock, by Jove ; and Caterham 
was a flat and a spoon, and he'd be dashed if he'd see the 
fam'ly degraded ; and I say, why the doose didn't Caterham 
listen to reason !" So far Captain the Honourable Lionel 
Brakespere ; who, utterly failing in his purpose and intent, 



Sunshine in the Shade. 77 

and having any further access to Lord Caterham's rooms 
strictly denied him by Lord Caterham's orders, sought out 
Algy Barford and confided to him the whole story, and 
" put him on " to save the fam'ly credit, and stop Caterham's 
rediklous 'fatuation. 

Now if the infatuation in question had been legitimate, 
and likely to lead to good results, Algy Barford would have 
been the very last man on earth to attempt to put a stop to 
it, or to interfere in any way save for its advancement. But 
this airy, laughing philosopher, with all his apparent care- 
lessness, was a man of the world and a shrewd reader of 
human character; and he had made certain inquiries, the 
result of which proved that Carry Chesterton was, if not all 
that Lionel Brakespere had made her out, at all events a 
heartless coquette and fortune-huntress, always rising at the 
largest fly. Quite recently jilted by that charming creature 
Captain Slummer of the Rifles, she had been heard to 
declare she would not merely retrieve the position hereby 
lost, but achieve a much greater one ; and she had been 
weak enough to boast of her influence over Lord Caterham, 
and her determination to marry him in spite of all his 
family's opposition. Then Algy Barford joined the ranks of 
the conspirators, and brought his thoroughly practical worldly 
knowledge to their camp. It was at a council held in Lady 
Beauport's boudoir that he first spoke on the subject, his 
face radiant with good humour, his teeth gleaming in the 
light, and his attention impartially divided between the 
matter under discussion and the vagaries of a big rough 
terrier which accompanied him every where. 

"You must pardon me, dear Lady Beauport," said he; 
" but you've all been harking forward on. the wrong scent. — 
Down, Tinker ! Don't let him jump on your mother, 
Lionel ; his fleas, give you my honour, big as lobsters ! — on 
the wrong scent ! Dear old Caterham, best fellow in the 
world ; but frets at the curb, don't you know ? Put him a 
couple of links higher up than usual, and he rides rusty and 
jibs — jibs, by Jove ! And that's what you've been doing 
now. Dear old Caterham ! not much to amuse him in life, 
don't you know ? goes on like a blessed old martyr ; but at 
last finds something which he likes, and you don't. Quite 
right, dear Lady Beauport ; I see it fast enough, because 
I'm an old lad, and have seen men and cities; but dear 



78 Land at Last. 

Caterham, who is all milk and rusks and green peas, and 
every thing that is innocent, don't you know, don't see it at 
all. And then you try to shake him by the shoulder and 
rouse him out of his dream, and tell him that he's not in 
fairyland, not in Aladdin's palace, not in a two-pair back in 
Craven Street, Strand. Great mistake that, Lionel, dear 
boy. Dear Lady Beauport, surely your experience teaches 
you that it is a great mistake to cross a person when they're 
in that state?" 

" But, Mr. Barford, what is to be done?" 

'■ Put the helm about, Lady Beauport, and — Tinker ! you 
atrocious desperado, you shameless caitiff! will you get 
down ? — put the helm about, and try the other tack. We've 
failed with dear old Caterham : now let's try the lady. 
Caterham is the biggest fish she's seen yet ; but my notion 
is that if a perch came in her way, and seemed likely to bite, 
she'd forget she'd ever seen a gudgeon. Now my brother 
Windermere came to town last week, and he's an earl, you 
know, and just the sort of fellow who likes nothing so much 
as a flirtation, and is all the time thunderingly well able to 
take care of himself. I think if Miss Chesterton were 
introduced to Windermere, she'd soon drop poor dear 
Caterham." 

Both Lionel and his mother agreed in this notion, and an 
early opportunity was taken for the presentation of Lord 
Windermere to Miss Chesterton. An acknowledged parti ; 
a man of thews and sinews ; frank, generous, and affable : 
apparently candid and unsuspecting in the highest degree, 
he seemed the very prize for which that accomplished 
fortune-huntress had long been waiting ; and forgetting- the 
old fable of the shadow and the substance, she at once 
turned a decided cold shoulder upon poor Lord Caternam, 
ceased visiting him, showed him no more poetry, and within 
a week of her making Lord Windermere's acquaintance, cut 
her old friend dead in Kensington Gardens, whither he had 
been wheeled in the hope of seeing her. Ah, in how few 
weeks, having discovered the sandy foundation on which 
she had been building, did she come back, crouching and 
fawning and trying all the old devices, to find the fire faded 
out of Caterham's eyes and the hope out of his breast, and 
the prospect of any love or companionship as distant from 
him as ever! 



Sunshine in the Shade. 79 

Yes, that was Lord Caterham's one experience of love ; 
and after its lame and impotent conclusion he determined 
he would never have another. We have all of us determined 
that in our time ; but few of us have kept to our resolution 
so rigidly as did Lord Caterham, possibly because opportu- 
nities have not been so wanting to us as to him. It is all 
that horrible opportunity which saps our strongest resolu- 
tions; it is the close proximity of the magnum of "something 
special" in claret which leads to the big drink; it is the 
shaded walk, and the setting sun behind the deep bank of 
purple clouds, and the solemn stillness, and the upturned 
eyes and the provoking mouth, which lead to all sorts of 
horrible mistakes. Opportunity after the Chesterton escapade 
was denied to Lord Caterham both by himself and his 
parents. He shut himself up in solitude : he would see no 
one save the apothecary and Algy Barford, who indeed 
came constantly, feeling all the while horribly treacherous 
and shamefaced. And then by degrees — by that blessed 
process of Time against which we rail so much, but which is 
so beneficial, of Time the anodyne and comforter, he fell 
back into his old ways of life ; and all that little storm and 
commotion was as though it had never been. It left no 
marks of its fury on Caterham ; he kept no relics of its 
bright burning days : all letters had been destroyed. There 
was not a glove nor a flower in his drawers — nothing for 
him to muse and shake his head over. So soon as his 
passion had spent itself — so soon as he could look calmly 
upon the doings of the few previous months, he saw how 
unworthy they had been, and blotted them from his memory 
for ever. 

So until Annie Maurice had come to take up her position 
as his mother's companion, Lord Caterham had been en- 
tirely without female society, and since her advent he had first 
learned the advantages of associating with a pure, genuine 
healthy woman. Like Carry Chesterton, she seemed to 
take to the crippled man from her first introduction to him ; 
but ah, how unlike that siren did sweet Annie Maurice show 
her regard ! There was no more romance in her composition, 
so she would have told you herself, than in the statue at 
Charing Cross ; no eyebrow elevations, no glances, no 
palpable demonstrations of interest. In quite a household 



8o Land at Last. 

and domestic manner did this good fairy discharge her 
duties. She was not the Elf, the Wili, the Giselle, in book- 
muslin and starsprent hair ; she was the ordinary " Brownie," 
the honest Troll, which shows its presence in help rather 
than ornament. Ever since Miss Maurice had been an 
inmate of the house in Barnabas Square, Caterham's books 
had been dusted, his books and papers arranged, his diurnal 
calendar set, his desk freshened with a glass of newly- 
gathered flowers. Never before had his personal wants been 
so readily understood, so deftly attended to. No one 
smoothed his pillows so softly, wheeled his chair so easily, 
his every look so quickly comprehended. To all that 
dreary household Annie Maurice was a sunbeam; but on 
no one did she shine so brightly as on that darkened spirit. 
The Earl felt the beaming influence of her bright nature ; 
the Countess could not deny her meed of respect to one 
who was always " in her place ; " the servants, horribly 
tenacious of interference, could find no fault with Miss 
Maurice; but to none appeared she in so bright a light as 
to Lord Caterham. 

It was the morning after the receipt of the letter which 
Algy Barford had left with him, and which had seemingly 
so much upset him, that Caterham was sitting in his room, 
his hands clasped idly before him, his looks bent, not on 
the book lying open on the desk, but on the vacant space 
beyond it. So delicately constituted was his frame, that 
any mental jar was immediately succeeded by acute bodily 
suffering ; he was hurt, not merely in spirit but in body ; 
the machinery of his being was shaken and put out of gear, 
and it took comparatively some length of time for all to get 
into working order again. The strain on this occasion had 
evidently been great, his head throbbed, his eyes were sur- 
rounded with bistre rings, and the nervous tension of his 
clasped fingers showed the unrest of his mind. Then came 
a gentle tap on the door, a sound apparently instantly 
recognisable, for Lord Caterham raised his head, and bade 
the visitor " Come in." It was Annie Maurice. No one 
else opened the door so quickly and closed it so quietly 
behind her, no one came with so light and yet so firm a 
step, no one else would have seen that the sun was pouring 
in through the window on to the desk, and would have 



Sunshine in the Shade. 81 

crossed the room and arranged the blind before coming up 
to the chair. Caterham knew her without raising his eyes, 
and had said, "Ah, Annie dear !" before she reached him. 

" I feared you were ill, my lord," she commenced ; but a 
deep growl from Caterham stopped her. " I feared you 
were ill, Arthur," she then said; "you did not show at 
dinner last night, nor in the evening; but I thought you 
might be disinclined for society — the Gervises were here, 
you know, and the Scrimgeours, and I know you don't care 
for our classical music, which is invariable on such occasions ; 
but I met Stephens on the staircase, and he gave me such a 
desponding account, that I really feared you were ill." 

" Only a passing dull fit, Annie ; only a passing dull fit of 
extra heaviness, and consequently extra duration ! Stephens 
is a croaker, you know ; and having, I believe, an odd sort 
of Newfoundland-dog attachment to me, is frightened if I 
have a finger-ache. But I'm very glad you've come in, 
Annie, for I'm not really very bright even now, and you 
always help to set me straight. Well, and how goes it with 
you, young lady?" 

"Oh, very well, Arthur, very well." 

" You feel happier than you did on your first coming 
among us ? You feel as though you were settling down into 
your home ?" 

"I should be worse than foolish if I did not, for every 
one tries to be kind to me." 

" I did not ask you for moral sentiments, Annie, I asked 
you for facts. Do you feel settling down into your home?" 
And as Caterham said this, he shot a keen scrutinising 
glance at the girl. 

She paused for a moment ere she answered, and when 
she spoke she looked at him straight out of her big brown 
eyes. 

" Do I feel as if I were settling down into my home, 
Arthur ? No ; in all honesty, no. I have no home, as you 
know well enough ; but I feel that — " 

" Why no home ?" he interrupted ; " isn't — No, I under- 
stand." 

" Xo, you do not understand ; and it is for that reason I 
speak. You do not understand me, Lord — Arthur. You 
have notions which I want to combat, and set right at once, 
please. I know you have, for I've heard hints of them in 

G 



82 Land at Last. 

something you've said before. It all rises out of your 
gentlemanly and chivalrous feeling, I know; but, believe me, 
you're wrong. I fill the position of your mother's companion 
here, and you have fallen into the conventional notion that 
I'm not well treated, put upon, and all that kind of thing. 
On my honour, that is utterly wrong. No two people could 
be kinder, after their lights, than Lord and Lady Beauport 
are to me. Of your own conduct I need say no word. 
From the servants I have perfect respect ; and yet — " 

"And yet?" 

" Well, simply you choose the wrong word ; there's no 
homey feeling about it, and I should be false were I to 
pretend there were." 

" But pardon me for thus pursuing the subject into detail, 
— my interest in you must be my excuse, — what ' homey 
feeling,' as you call it, had you at Ricksborough Vicarage, 
whence you came to us? The people there are no closer 
blood-relations than we are ; nor did they, as far as I 
know — " 

" Nor did they try more to make me happy. No, indeed, 
they could not have tried more in that way than you do. 
But I was much younger when I first went there, Arthur — 
quite a little child — and had all sorts of childish reminiscences 
of cow-milking, and haymaking, and harvest-homes, and all 
kinds of ruralities, with that great balioon-shaped shadow ol 
St. Paul's ever present on the horizon keeping watch over 
the City, where dear old uncle Frank told me I should have 
to get my living after he was gone. Its home-influence 
gained on me even from the sorrow which I saw and 
partook of in it ; from the sight of my aunt's death-bed and 
my uncle's meek resignation overcoming his desperate grief; 
from the holy comfort inspired in him by the discharge of 
his holy calling ; by the respect and esteem in which he was 
held by all around, and which was never so much shown as 
when he wanted it most acutely. These things, among 
many others, made that place home to me." 

" Yes," said Lord Caterham, in a harsh dry voice ; " I 
understand easily enough. After such innocence and good- 
ness I can fully comprehend what it must be to you to read 
blue-books to my father, to listen to my mother's fade 
nonsense about balls, operas, and dresses, or to attend to the 
hypochondriacal fancies of a valetudinarian like myself—" 



Sunshine in the Shade. 83 

" Lord Caterham ! I don't think that even you have a 
right to insult me in this way !" 

' ; Even I ! thank you for the compliment, which implies— 
Bah ! what a brute I am ! You'll forgive me, Annie, won't 
you ? I'm horribly hipped and low. I've not been out for 
two days ; and the mere fact of being a prisoner to the house 
always fills my veins with bile instead of blood. Ah, you 
won't keep that knit brow and those tightened lips any 
longer, will you ? No one sees more plainly than I do that 
your life here wants certain — " 

" Pray say no more, I — " 

" Ah, Annie, for Heaven's sake don't pursue this miserable 
growl of mine. Have some pity for my ill-health. But I 
want to see you with as many surroundings natural to your 
age and taste as we can find in this — -hospital. There's 
music : you play and sing very sweetly ; but you can't — I 
know you can't — sit down with any ease or comfort to that 
great furniture-van of a grand-piano in that gaunt drawing- 
room ; that's only fit for those long-haired foreigners who let 
off their fireworks on Lady Beauport's reception-nights. 
You must have a good piano of your own, in your own 
room or here, or somewhere where you can practise quietly. 
I'll see about that. And drawing — for you have a great 
natural talent for that ; but you should have some lessons : 
you must keep it up ; you must have a master. There's a 
man goes to Lady Lilford's, a capital fellow, whom I know ; 
you must have him. What's his name ? Ludlow — " 

" What, Geoffrey Ludlow ! dear old Geoff ! He used to 
be papa's greatest friend when we were at Willesden, you 
know, — and before that dreadful bankruptcy, you know, 
Mr. Ludlow was always there. I've sat on his knee a 
thousand times ; and he used to sketch me, and call me his 
little elf. Oh yes, dear Arthur, I should like that, — I should 
like to have lessons from Mr. Ludlow ! I should so like to 
see him again ! " 

"Well, Annie, you shall. I'll get his address from the 
Lilfords and write to him, and settle about his coming. 
And now, Annie, leave me, dear; I'm a little tired, and 
want rest." 

He was tired, and wanted rest ; but he did not get it just 
then. Long after Annie left the room he sat pondering, 
pondering, with a strange feeling for which he himself could 



§4 Land at Last. 

not account, but which had its keynote in this : How 
strongly she spoke of the man Ludlow ; how he disliked 
her earnestness on the subject ; and what would he not 
have given, could he have thought she would have spoken 
so strongly of him. 



CHAPTER X. 

YOUR WILLIAM. 

WHEN you feel yourself gradually becoming enthralled, 
falling a victim to a fascination all-potent, but 
scarcely all-satisfactory, be it melancholy, or gambling, or 
drink, or love, there is nothing so counteracting to the 
horrible influence as to brace your nerves together, and go 
in for a grand spell of work. That remedy is always effi- 
cacious, of course. It never fails, as Geoffrey Ludlow knew 
very well ; and that was the reason why, on the morning 
after his last-described interview with Margaret Dacre, he 
dragged out from behind a screen, where it had been turned 
with its face to the wall, his half-finished picture intended 
for the Academy, and commenced working on it with 
wonderful earnestness. It was a large canvas with three 
principal figures : a young man, a " swell " of modem days, 
turning away from the bold and eager glances of a some- 
what brazen coquette, and suddenly struck by the modest 
Dashful beauty of a girl of the governess-order seated at a 
piano. " Scylla and Charybdis " Geoff had intended calling 
it, with the usual Incidit in &*c. motto j and when the idea 
first struck him he had taken pains with his composition, 
had sketched his figures carefully, and had painted-in the 
flirt and the man very successfully. The governess had as 
yet been a failure ; he had had no ideal to work from ; the 
model who had sat to him was a little coarse and clumsy, 
and irritated at not being able to carry out his notion, he 
had put the picture by. But he now felt that work was 
required of him, not merely as a distraction from thought, 
but as an absolute duty which he owed to himself; and as 
this was a subject likely to be appreciated by Mr. Stomp ff, 
he determined to work at it again, and to have it ready for 
submission to the Hanging Committee of the Academy. 
Ho boarded over it a little at first ; he smoked two nines. 



Your William. 85 

staring at the canvas, occasionally shading his eyes with one 
hand, and waving the other in a dreamy possessed manner 
in front of him. Then he took up a brush and began to 
lay on a bit of colour, stepping back from time to time to 
note the effect ; and then the spirit came upon him, and he 
went to work with all his soul. 

What a gift is that of the painter, whose whole story can 
be read at one glance, who puts what we require three thick 
volumes to narrate into a few feet of canvas, who with one 
touch of his brush gives an expression which we pen-and-ink 
workers should take pages to convey, and even then could 
never hope to do it half so happily ! — who sees his work 
grow beneath his hand, and can himself judge of its effect 
on others ; — who can sit with his pipe in his mouth, and 
chirp away merrily to his friend, the while his right hand is 
gaining him wealth and honour and fame ! 

The spirit was on Geoffrey Ludlow, and the result came 
out splendidly. He hoped to gain a good place on the 
Academy walls, he hoped to do justice to the commissions 
which Mr. Stompff had given him ; but there was something 
beyond these two incentives which spurred his industry and 
nerved his touch. After all his previous failures, it seemed 
as though Scylla the governess would have the best of it at 
last. Charybdis was a splendid creature, a bold, black-eyed, 
raven-haired charmer, with her hair falling in thick masses 
over her shoulders, and with a gorgeous passion-flower 
hanging voluptuously among her tresses ; a goddess amongst 
big Guardsmen, who would sit and suck their yellow mous- 
taches and express their admiration in fragmentary ejacula- 
tions, or amongst youths from the Universities, with fluff 
instead of hair, and blushes in place of aplomb. But in his 
later work the artist's heart seemed to have gone with Scylla, 
who was to her rival as is a proof after Sir Joshua to a 
French print, as a glass of Amontillado to a 'petit verre of 
Chartreuse, — a slight delicate creature, with violet eyes and 
pallid complexion, and deep-red hair brought down in thick 
braids, and tucked away behind such dainty little ears ; her 
modest gray dress contrasting, in its quaker-like simplicity, 
with the brilliant-hued robe and rich laces of her rival. His 
morning's work must have been successful, for — rare thing 
with him — Geoff himself was pleased with it ; no doubt of 
the inspiration now, he tried to deny it to himself, but could 



86 Land at Last. 

not — the likeness came out so wonderfully. So he gave 
way to the charm, and as he sat before the canvas, thought- 
fully gazing at it, he let his imagination run riot, and gave 
his pleasant memories full play. 

He had worked well and manfully, and had tolerably 
satisfied himself, and was sitting resting, looking at what he 
had done, and thinking over what had prompted his work, 
when there came a tap at the door, and his sister Til crept 
noiselesdy in. She entered softly, as was her wont when 
her brother was engaged, and took up her position behind 
him. But Miss Til was demonstrative by nature, and after 
a minute's glance could not contain herself. 

" Oh, you dear old Geoff, that is charming ! oh, Geoff, 
how you have got on ! But I say, Geoff, the governess — 
what do you call her ? I never can recollect those Latin 
names, or Greek is it ? — you know, and it does not matter ; 
but she is — you know, Geoff, I know you don't like me to 
say so, but I can't find any other word — she is stunning ! 
Not that I think — I don't know, you know, of course, 
because we don't mix in that sort of society — not that — that 
I think that people who — well, I declare, I don't know any 
other word for them ! — I mean swells — would allow their 
governess to have her hair done in that style ; but she is 
de-licious ! You've got a new model, Geoff ; at least you've 
never attempted any thing in that style before, and I declare 
you've made a regular hit. You don't speak, Geoff; don't 
you like what I'm saying?" 

" My dear child, you don't give me the chance of saying 
any thing. You rattle on with ' I know ' and ' you know ' 
and ' don't you know/ till I can scarcely tell where I am. 
One thing I do manage to glean, however, and that is that 
you are pleased with the picture, which is the very best 
news that I could have. For though you're a most horrible 
little rattletrap, and talk nineteen to the dozen, there is 
some sense in what you say and always a great deal of 
truth." 

" Specially when what I say is complimentary, eh, Geoff ? 
Not that I think I have ever said much in any other strain 
to you. But you haven't told me about your new model, 
Geoff. Where did she come from ?" 

"My new model?" 

"Yes, yes, for the governess, you know. That's new— 



Your Witliam. 87 

I mean that hair and eyes, and all that. You've never 
painted any thing like that before. Where did she come 
from ?" 

There were few things that Geoffrey Ludlow would have 
kept from his sister, but this was one of them ; so he merely 
said : 

"O, a model, Til dear — one of the usual shilling-an-hour 
victims." 

"Sent you by Mr. Charles Potts, I suppose," said Miss 
Til, with unusual asperity; "sent you for—" But here a 
knock at the door cut short the young lady's remarks. " O, 
but if that is Mr. Potts," she resumed, " don't say a word 
about what I said just now; don't, Geoff, there's a dear." 

It was not Mr. Potts who responded to Geoffrey Ludlow's 
" Come in." It was Mr. Bowker's head which was thrust 
through the small space made by the opening of the door ; 
and it was Mr. Bowker's deep voice which exclaimed : 

" Engaged, eh? Your William will look in again." 

But Til, with whom Mr. Bowker was a special favourite, 
from his strange unconventional manners and rough bonhomie, 
called out at once : " Mr. Bowker, it's only I — Geoff !s sister 
Til;" and Geoff himself roaring out that "Bowker was grow- 
ing modest in his old age," that gentleman was persuaded to 
come in ; and closing the door lightly behind him, he went 
up to the young lady, and bending over her hand, made her 
a bow such as any fireux chevalier might have envied. A 
meeting with a lady was a rare oasis in the desert of 
William Bowker's wasted life; but whenever he had the 
chance he showed that he had been something more than 
the mere pot-walloping boon-companion which most men 
thought him. 

" Geoft's sister Til !" he repeated, looking at the tall hand- 
some girl before him, — " Geoff's sister Til ! Ah, then it's 
perfectly right that I should have lost all my hair, and that 
my beard should be grizzled, and that I have a general 
notion of the omnipresence of old age. I was inclined to 
grumble; but if 'Geoff's sister Til,' who I thought was still 
a little child, is to come up and greet me in this guise, I 
recant : Time is right ; and your William is the only old fool 
in the matter." 

" It is your own fault, Mr. Bowker, that you don't know 
the changes that take place in us. You know we are always 



88 Land at Last. 

glad lo see you, and that mamma is always sending you 
messages by Geoff." 

"You are all very good, and — well, I suppose it is my 
fault ; let's say it is, at all events. What ! going ? There, 
you see the effect my presence has when I come up on a 
chance visit." 

" Not at all," said Til ; " I should have gone five minutes 
ago if you had not come in. I'll make a confidant of you, 
Mr. Bowker, and let you into a secret. Those perpetual 
irritable pulls at the bell are the tradespeople waiting for 
orders ; and I must go and settle about dinner and all sorts 
of things. Now good-bye." She shook hands with him, 
nodded brightly at her brother, and was gone. 

" That's a nice girl," said William Bowker, as the door 
closed after her; "a regular nice girl — modest, ladylike, and 
true ; none of your infernal fal-lal affectations — honest as the 
day; you can see that in her eyes and in every word she says. 
Where do you keep your tobacco ? All right. Your pipes 
want looking after, Geoff. I've tried three, and each is as 
foul as a chimney. Ah, this will do at last; now I'm all 
right, and can look at your work. H — m ! that seems good 
stuff. You must tone-down that background a little, and 
put a touch of light here and there on the dress, which is 
infernally heavy and Hamlet-like. Hallo, Geoff, are you 
going in for the P.-R.-B. business ?" 

" Not I. What do you mean?" 

" What do you mean by this red-haired party, my boy ? 
This is a new style for you, Geoff, and one which no one 
would have thought of your taking up. You weren't brought 
up to consider this the right style of thing in old Sassoon's 
academy, Geoff. If the old boy could rise from his grave, 
and see his favourite pupil painting a frizzy, red-haired, 
sallow-faced woman as the realisation of beauty, I think he'd 
be glad he'd been called away before such awful times." 

There was a hesitation in Geoff's voice, and a hollowness 
in his smile, as he answered : 

" P -R.-B. nonsense ! Old Sassoon couldn't teach every- 
thing ; and as for his ideas of beauty, look how often he 
made us paint Mrs. S. and the Miss S.'s, who, Heaven knows, 
were anything but reproductions of the Venus Calipyge. 
The simple question, as I take it, is this — is the thing a good 
thin? or a bad one? Tell me that." 



Your William. 89 

"As a work of art ?" 

" Of course ; as you see it. What else could I mean ?" 

" As a work of art, it's good — undeniably good, in tone, 
and treatment, and conception ; as a work of prudence, it's 
infernally bad." 

Geoff looked at him sharply for a minute, and William 
Bowker, calmly puffing at his pipe, did not shrink from his 
friend's glance. Then, with a flush, Geoff said : 

"It strikes me that it is as a work of art you have to regard 
it. As to what you say about a work of prudence, you have 
the advantage of me. I don't understand you." 

" Don't you ?" said William. " I'm sorry for you. What 
model did you paint that head from ?" 

" From no model." 

"From life?" 

" N-no ; from memory — from — Upon my soul, Bowker, 
I don't see what right you have to cross-question me in 
this way." 

"Don't you?" said Bowker. "Give your William some- 
thing to drink, please ; he can't talk when he's- dry. What is 
that ? B. and soda. Yes, that'll do. Look here, Geoffrey 
Ludlow, when you were little more than a boy, grinding away 
in the Life-School, and only too pleased if the Visitor gave 
you an encouraging word, your William, who is ten years 
your senior, had done work which made him be looked upon 
as the coming man. He had the ball at his foot, and he had 
merely to kick it to send it where he chose. He does not 
say this out of brag— you know it ?" 

Geoffrey Ludlow inclined his head in acquiescence. 

" Your William didn't kick the ball ; something interfered 
just as his foot was lifted to send it flying to the goal — ■ 
a woman." 

Again Geoffrey Ludlow nodded in acquiescence. 

"You have heard the story. Every body in town knew 
it, and each had his peculiar version ; but I will tell you the 
whole truth myself. You don't know how I struggled on 
against that infatuation ; — no, you may think you do, but I 
am a much stronger man than you — am, or was — and I saw 
what I was losing by giving way. I gave way. I knocked 
down the whole fabric which, from the time I had had a 
man's thoughts, a man's mind, a man's energy and power, 



9© Land at Last, 

I had striven to raise. I kicked it all down, as Alnaschar did 
his basket of eggs, and almost as soon found how vain had 
been my castle-building. I need scarcely go into detail with 
you about that story : it was published in the Sunday news- 
papers of the time ; it echoed in every club-room ; it has 
remained lingering about art-circles, and in them is doubtless 
told with great gusto at the present day, should ever my 
name be mentioned. I fell in love with a woman who was 
married to a man of more than double her age, — a woman 
of education, taste, and refinement ; of singular beauty too 
— and that to a young artist was not her least charm — tied 
for life to an old heartless scoundrel. My passion for her 
sprung from the day of my first seeing her ; but I choked it 
down. I saw as plainly as I see this glass before me now 
what would be the consequence of any absurd escapade on 
my part; how it would crush me, how, infinitely more, it 
would drag her down. I knew what was working in each of 
us ; and, so help me Heaven ! I tried to spare us both. I 
tried — and failed, dismally enough. It was for no want of 
arguing with myself — from no want ot forethought of all the 
consequences that might ensue. I looked at all point-blank; 
for though I was young and mad with passion, I loved that 
woman so that I could even have crushed my own selfishness 
lest it should be harm to her. I could have done this : I 
did it until — until one night I saw a blue livid mark on her 
shoulder. God knows how many years that is ago, but I 
have the whole scene before me at this moment. It was at 
some fine ball (I went into what is called 'society' then), and 
we were standing in a conservatory, when I noticed this mark. 
I asked her about it, and she hesitated; I taxed her with the 
truth, which she first feebly denied, then admitted. He had 
struck her, the hound ! in a fit of jealous rage, — had struck 
her with his clenched fist ! Even as she told me this, I could 
see him within a few yards of us, pretending to be rapt in 
conversation, but obviously noting our conduct. I suppose 
he guessed that she had told me of what had occurred. I 
suppose he guessed it from my manner and the expression 
of my face, for a deadly pallor came over his grinning cheeks ; 
and as we passed out of the conservatory, he whispered to 
her — not so low but that I caught the words — 'You shall pay 
for this, madam — you shall pay for this !' That determined 



Your William. 91 

mc, and that night we fled. — Give me some more brandy and 
soda, Geoff. Merely to tell this story drags the heart out 
of my breast." 

Geoff pushed the bottle over to his friend, and after a gulp 
Bowker proceeded : 

"We went to Spain, and remained there many months; 
and there it was all very well. That slumbering country is 
even now but little haunted by your infernal British tourist ; 
but then scarcely any Englishman came there. Such as we 
came across were all bachelors, your fine lady can't stand 
the mule-travelling and the roughing it in the posadas ; and 
they either had not heard the story, or didn't see the propriety 
of standing on any squeamishness, more especially when the 
acquaintance was all to their advantage, and we got on 
capitally. Nelly had seen nothing, poor child, having left 
school to be married; and all the travel, and the picturesque 
old towns, and the peasantry, and the Alhambra, and all the 
rest of it, made a sort of romantic dream for her. But then 
old Van den Bosch got his divorce ; and so soon as I had 
heard of that, like a madman as I was, I determined to come 
back to England. The money was running short, to be sure; 
but I had made no end of sketches, and I might have sent 
them over and sold them ; but I wanted to get back. A 
man can't live on love alone ; and I wanted to be amongst 
my old set again, for the old gossip and the old camaraderie; 
and so back we came. I took a little place out at Ealing, 
and then I went into the old haunts, and saw the old fellows, 
and — for the first time — so help me Heaven ! for the first 
time I saw what I had done. They cut me, sir, right and 
left ! There were some of them — blackguards who would 
have hodnobbed with Greenacre, if he'd stood the drink — 
who accepted my invitations, and came Sunday after Sunday, 
and would have eaten and drunk me out of house and home, 
if I'd have stood it ; but the best — the fellows I really cared 
about — pretty generally gave me the cold shoulder. Some of 
them had married during my absence, and of course they 
couldn't come; others were making their way in their art, 
working under the patronage of big swells in the Academy, 
and hoping for election there, and they daren't be mixed up 
with such a notoriously black sheep as your William. I felt 
this, Geoff, old boy. By George, it cut me to the heart ; it 
took all the change out of me ; it made me low and hipped, 



52 Land at Last. 

and, I fear, sometimes savage. And I suppose I showed it 
at home : for poor Nell seemed to change and wither from 
the day of our return. She had her own troubles, poor 
darling, though she thought she kept them to herself. In 
a case like that, Geoff, the women get it much hotter than 
we do. There were no friends for her, no one to whom she 
could tell her troubles. And then the story got known, and 
people used to stare and nudge each other, and whisper as 
she passed. The parson called when we first came, and was 
a good pleasant fellow ; but a fortnight afterwards he'd heard 
all about it, and grew purple in the face as he looked straight 
over our heads when we met him. And once a butcher, who 
had to be spoken to for cheating, cheeked her and alluded 
to her story ; but I think what I did to him prevented any 
repetition of that kind of conduct. But I couldn't silence 
the whole world by thrashing it, old fellow ; and Nell drooped 
and withered under all the misery — drooped and — died ! 
And I — well, I became the graceless, purposeless, spiritless 
brute you see me now !" 

Mr. Bowker stopped and rubbed the back of his hand 
across his eyes, and gave a great cough before finishing his 
drink; and then Geoffrey patted him on the shoulder and 
said, " But you know how we all love you, old friend ; how 
that Charley Potts, and I, and Markham, and Wallis, and all 
the fellows, would do anything for you." 

Mr. Bowker gave his friend's hand a tight grip as he 
said, "I know, Geoff; I know you boys are fond of your 
William; but it wasn't to parade my grief, or to cadge for 
sympathy from them, that I told you that story. I had 
another motive." 

" And that was — " 

" To set myself up as an example and a warning to — any 
one who might be going to take a similar step. You named 
yourself just now, Geoff, amongst those who cared for me. 
Your William is a bit of a fogy, he knows ; but some of you 
do care for him, and you amongst them." 

"Of course. You know that well enough." 

"Then why not show your regard for your William, 
dear boy ? " 

" Show my regard — how shall I show it ?" 

" By confiding in him, Geoff; by talking to him about 
yourself; telling him your hopes and plans ; asking him for 



Your William. 93 

some of that advice which seeing a great many men and 
cities, and being a remarkably downy old skittle, qualifies 
him to give. Why not confide in him, Geoff ? " 

" Confide in you ? About what? Why on earth not speak 
out plainly at once ? " 

" Well, well, I won't beat about the bush any longer. I 
daresay there's nothing in it; but people talk and cackle 
so confoundedly, and, by George, men — some men, at least 
— are quite as bad as women in that line; and they say 
you're in love, Geoff; regularly hard hit — no chance of 
recovery !" 

"Do they?" said Geoff, flushing very red — "do they? 
Who are ' they,' by the way ? — not that it matters, a pack of 
gabbling fools ! But suppose I am, what then ? " 

" What then ! Why, nothing then — only it's rather odd 
that you've never told your William, whom you've known so 
long and so intimately, any thing about it. Is that " (pointing 
to the picture) " a portrait of the lady ? " 

' " There — there is a reminiscence of her — her head and 
general style." 

"Then your William would think that her head and general 
style must be doosid good. Any sisters ?" 

" I— I think not." 

" Are her people pleasant — do you get on with them ?" 

" I don't know them." 

"Ah, Geoff, Geoff, why make me go on in this way? 
Don't you know me well enough to be certain that I'm not 
asking all these questions for impertinence and idle curiosity? 
Don't you see that I'm dragging bit by bit out of you because 
I'm coming to the only point any of your friends can care 
about ? Is this girl a good girl ; is she respectable ; is she 
in your own sphere of life ; can you bring her home and tell 
the old lady to throw her arms round her neck, and welcome 
her as a daughter? Can you introduce her to that sweet 
sister of yours who was here when I came in?" 

There came over Geoffrey Ludlow's face a dark shadow 
such as William Bowker had never seen there before. He 
did not speak nor turn his eyes, but sat fixed and rigid as a 
statue. 

"For God's sake think of all this, Geoff! I've told you a 
thousand times that you ought to be married; that there 
was no man more calculated to make a woman happy, or to 



94 Land at Last. 

have his own happiness increased by a woman's love. But 
then she must be of your own degree in life, and one of 
whom you could be every where proud. I would not have 
you married to an ugly woman or a drabby woman, or any 
thing that wasn't very nice ; how much less, then, to any 
one whom you would feel ashamed of, or who could not be 
received by your dear ones at home ! Geoff, dear old Geoff, 
for heaven's sake think of all this before it is too late ! Take 
warning by my fatal error, and see what misery you would 
prepare for both of you." 

Geoffrey Ludlow still sat in the same attitude. He made 
no reply for some minutes ; then he said, dreamily, "Yes — 
yes, you're quite right, of course, — quite right. But I don't 
think we'll continue the conversation now. Another time, 
Bowker, please — another time." Then he ceased, and Mr. 
Bowker rose and pressed his hand, and took his departure. 
As he closed the door behind him, that worthy said to 
himself: "Well, I've done my duty, and I know I've done 
right ; but it's very little of Geoff's mutton that your 
William will cut, and very little of Geoff's wine that your 
William will drink, if that marriage comes off. For of 
course he'll tell her all I've said, and won't she love your 
William ! " 

And for hours Geoffrey Ludlow sat before his easel, 
gazing at the Scylla head, and revolving all the detail of 
Mr. Bowker's story in his mind. 



CHAPTER XI. 

PLAYING THE FISH. 

WHEN did the giver of good, sound, unpalatable, 
wholesome advice ever receive his due? Who does 
not possess, amongst the multitude of acquaintances, a friend 
who says, " Such and such are my difficulties : I come to you 
because I want advice;" and who, after having heard all 
that, after a long struggle with yourself, you bring yourself 
to say, wrings your hand, goes away thinking what an 
impertinent idiot you are, and does exactly the opposite of 
all you have suggested? All men, even the most self- 
opinionated and practical, are eager for advice. None, 



Playing the Fish. 95 

even tht most hesitating and diffident, take it, unless it 
agrees with their own preconceived ideas. There are, of 
course, exceptions by which this rule is proved ; but there 
are two subjects on which no man was ever yet known to 
take advice, and they are horses and women. Depreciate 
your friend's purchase as delicately as Agag came unto Saul; 
give every possible encomium to make and shape and 
breeding ; but hint, per contra, that the animal is scarcely up 
to his weight, or that that cramped action looks like a 
possible blunder; suggest that a little more slope in the 
shoulder, a little less cowiness in the general build, might be 
desirable for riding purposes, and your friend will smile, and 
shake his head, and canter away, convinced of the utter 
shallowness of your equine knowledge. In the other matter 
it is much worse. You must be very much indeed a man's 
friend if you can venture to hint to him, even after his 
iterated requests for your honest candid opinion, that the 
lady of his love is any thing but what he thinks her. And 
though you iterate and reiterate, moralise as shrewdly as 
Ecclesiasticus, bring chapter and verse to support your text, 
he must be more or less than a man, and cast in very 
different clay from that of which we poor ordinary mortals 
are composed, if he accepts one of your arguments or gives 
way one atom before your elucidations. 

Did William Bowker's forlorn story, commingled with his 
earnest passionate appeal, weigh one scruple with Geoffrey 
Ludlow ? Not one. Geoff was taken aback by the story. 
There was a grand human interest in that laying bare before 
him of a man's heart, and of two persons' wasted lives, 
which aroused his interest and his sympathy, made him 
ponder over what might have been, had the principal actors' 
in the drama been kept asunder, and sent him into a fine 
drowsy state of metaphysical dubiety. But while Bowker 
was pointing his moral, Geoff was merely turning over the 
various salient points which had adorned his tale. 

He certainly heard Bowker drawing a parallel between his 
own unhappy passion and Geoff's regard for the original 
owner of that " Scylla head ;" but as the eminent speaker 
was arguing on hypothetical facts, and drawing deductions 
from things of which he knew absolutely nothing, too much 
reliance was not to be placed on his arguments. In 
Bowker's case there had been a public scandal, a certain 



96 Land at Last. 

betrayal of trust, which was the worst feature in the whole 
affair, a trial and an expose, and a denunciation of the — well, 
the world used hard words — the seducer ; which — though 
Bowker was the best fellow in the world, and had obviously 
a dreadful time of it — was only according to English 
custom. Now, in his own case, Margaret (he had already 
accustomed himself to think of her as Margaret) had been 
victimised by a scoundrel, and the blame — for he supposed 
blame would, at least in the minds of very strait-laced 
people, attach to her — was mitigated by the facts. Besides 
— and here was his great thought — nothing would be known 
of her former history. Her life, so far as any one in his set 
could possibly know any thing about it, began on the night 
when he and Charley Potts found her in the street. She 
was destitute and starving, granted ; but there was nothing 
criminal in destitution and starvation, which indeed would, in 
the eyes of a great many weak and goodnatured '(the terms 
are synonymous) persons, bind a kind of romance to the 
story. And as to all that had gone before, what of that? 
How was any thing of that love ever to become known ? 
This Leonard Brookfield, an army swell, a man who, under 
any circumstances, was never likely to come across them, or 
to be mixed up in Geoff's artist-circle, had vanished, and 
with him vanished the whole dark part of the story. 
Vanished for ever and aye ! Margaret's life would begin to 
date from the time when she became his wife, when he 

brought her home to Ah, by the way, what was that 

Bowker said about her worthiness to associate with his 
mother and sister? Why not? He would tell them all 
about it. They were good women, who fully appreciated 
the grand doctrine of forgiveness ; and yet — He hesitated ; 
he knew his mother to be a most excellent church-going 
woman, bearing her " cross " womanfully, not to say rather 
flaunting it than otherwise; but he doubted whether she 
would appreciate an introduction to a Magdalen, however 
penitent. To subscribe to a charity for "those poor 
creatures ;" to talk pleasantly and condescendingly to them, 
and to leave them a tract on visiting a "Home" or a 
"Refuge," is one thing; to take them to your heart as 
daughters-in-law is another. And his sister ! Well, young 
girls didn't understand this kind of thing, and would put a 
false construction on it, and were always chattering, and a 



P/ti yiiii; the Fish. 97 

great ileal of harm might be done by Til's want of reticence; 
and so, perhaps, the best thing- to be done was to hold his 
tongue, decline to answer any questions about former life, 
and leave matters to take their course. He had already 
arrived at that state of mind that he felt, if any disagreements 
arose, he was perfectly ready to leave mother and sister, and 
cleave to his wife — that was to be. 

So Geoffrey Ludlow, tossing like a reed upon the waters, 
but ever, like the same reed, drifting with the resistless 
current of his will, made up his mind ; and all the sage 
experience of William liowker, illustrated by the story of his 
life, failed in altering his determination. It is questionable 
whether a younger man might not have been swayed by, or 
frightened at, the council given to him. Youth is impressible 
in all ways ; and however people may talk of the headstrong 
passion of youth, it is clear that — nowadays at least — there 
is a certain amount of selfish forethought mingled with the 
heat and fervour; that love— like the measles — though 
innocuous in youth, is very dangerous when taken in 
middle life ; and Geoffrey Ludlow was as weak, and withal 
as stubborn, an im-patient, as ever caught the disease. 

And yet ? — and yet ? — was the chain so strong, were the 
links already so well riveted, as to defy every effort to break 
them? Or, in truth, was it that the effort was wanting? 
An infatuation for a woman had been painted in very black 
shadows by William Bowker ; but it was a great question to 
Geoff whether there was not infinite pleasure in the mere 
fact of being infatuated. Since he had seen Margaret Dacre 
— at all events, since he had been fascinated by her — not 
merely was he a different man, so far as she was concerned, 
but all life was to him a different and infinitely more 
pleasurable thing. That strange doubting and hesitation 
which had been his bane through life seemed, if not to have 
entirely vanished, at all events to be greatly modified ; and 
he had recently, in one or two matters, shown a decision 
which had astonished the members of his little household. 
He felt that he had at last — what he had wanted all through 
his life — a purpose; he felt that there was something for 
him to live for; that by his love he had learned something 
that he had never known before ; that his soul was opened, 
and tire whole aspect of nature intensified and beautified ; 

H 



98 Land at Last. 

that he might have said with Maud's lover in. that exquisite 
poem of the Laureate's, which so few really appreciate— 

' ' It seems that I am happy, that to me 
A livelier emerald twinkles in the grass, 
A purer sapphire melts into the sea." 

Then he sat down at his easel again, and worked away at 
the Scylla head, which came out grandly, and soon grew all 
a-glowwith Margaret Dacre's peculiar expression; and then, 
after contemplating it long and lovingly, the desire to see 
the original came madly upon him, and he threw down his 
palette and brushes, and went out. 

He walked straight to Mrs. Flexor's, and, on his knocking, 
the door was opened to " him by that worthy dame, who 
announced to him, with awful solemnity, that he'd "find a 
change upstairs." 

"A change !" cried Geoffrey, his heart thumping audibly, 
and his cheek blanched ; " a change !" 

" O, nothin' serious, Mr. Ludlows ; but she have been a 
worritin' herself, poor lamb, and a cryin' her very eyes out. 
But what it is I can't make out, though statin' put your trust 
in one where trust is doo, continual." 

" I don't follow you yet, Mrs. Flexor. Your lodgei has 
been in low spirits— is that it?" 

" Sperrits isn't the name for it, Mr. Ludlows, when downei 
than dumps is what one would express. As queer as Dick's 
hatband have she been ever since you went away yesterday 
and I says to her at tea last evening—" 

" I can see her, I suppose?" 

"Of course you can, sir; which all I was doing was to 
prepare you for the — " but here Mrs. Flexor, who had 
apparently taken something stronger than usual with hei 
dinner, broke down and became inarticulate. 

Geoffrey pushed past her, and, knocking at the parlour- 
door, entered at once. He found Margaret standing, with 
her arms on the mantelshelf, surveying herself in the 
wretched little scrap of looking-glass which adorned the 
wall. Her hair was arranged in two large full bands, hei 
eyes were swollen, and her face was blurred and marked bj 
tears. She did not turn round at the opening of the door, 
nor, indeed, until she had raised her head and seen in the 



Playing the Fish. 99 

glass Geoff's reflection ; even then she moved languidly, as 
though in pain, and her hand, when she placed it in his, was 
dry with burning heat. 

" That chattering idiot down stairs was right after all," 
said Geoff, looking alarmedly at her; "you are ill?" 

"No," she said, with a faint smile; "not ill, at all events 
not now. I have been rather weak and silly ; but I did not 
expect you yet. I intended to remove all traces of such 
folly by the time you came. It was fit I should, as I want 
to talk to you most seriously and soberly." 

"Do we not always talk so? did we not the last time I 
was here — yesterday?" 

" Well, generally, perhaps ; but not the last time — not 
yesterday. If I could have thought so, I should have spared 
myself a night of agony and a morning of remorse." 

Geoff's face grew clouded. 

"lam sorry for your agony, but much more sorry for your 
remorse, Miss Dacre," said he. 

"Ah, Mr. Ludlow," cried Margaret, passionately, "don't 
you be angry with me ; don't you speak to me harshly, or I 
shall give way all together ! O, I watched every change of 
your face; and I saw what you thought at once; but indeed, 
indeed it is not so. My remorse is not for having told you 
all that I did yesterday ; for what else could I do to you 
who had been to me what you had ? My remorse was for 
what I had done — not for what I had said — for the wretched 
folly which prompted me to yield to a wheedling tongue, and 
so ruin myself for ever." 

Her tears burst forth again as she said this, and she 
stamped her foot upon the ground. 

"Ruin you for ever, Margaret!" said Geoffrey, stealing 
his arm round her waist as she still stood by the mantel- 
shelf; " O no, not ruin you, dearest Margaret — " 

"Ah, Mr. Ludlow," she interrupted, neither withdrawing 
from nor yielding to his arm, " have I not reason to say 
ruin ? Can I fail to see that you have taken an interest in 
me which — which — " 

" Which nothing you have told me can alter — which I 
shall preserve, please God," said Geoff, in all simplicity and 
sincerity, " to the end of my life." 

She looked at him as he said these words with a fixed regard, 
half of wonder, half of real unfeiened earnest admiration 



ioo Land at Last. 

" I — I'm a very bad hand at talking, Margaret, and knov 
I ought to say a great deal for which I can't find words 
You see," he continued, with a grave smile, " I'm not . 
young man now, and I suppose one finds it more difficul 
to express oneself about — about such matters. But I'n 
going to ask you — to — to share my lot — to be my wife !" 

Her heart gave one great bound within her breast, anc 
her face was paler than ever, as she said : 

"Your wife! your wife! Do you know what you an 
saying, Mr. Ludlow ? or is it I who, as the worldling, mus 
point out to you — " 

" I know all," said Geoffrey, raising his hand deprecatingly 
but she would not be silenced. 

"I must point out to you what you would bring upoi 
yourself — what you would have to endure. The story o 
my life is known to you and to you alone ; not anothe 
living soul has ever heard it. My mother died while I wa: 
in Italy ; and of — the other person — nothing has ever beei 
heard since his flight. So far, then, I do not fear that my— 
my shame — we will use the accepted term — would be flum 
in your teeth, or that you would be made to wince unde: 
any thing that might be said about me. But you wouk 
know the facts yourself; you could not hide Aem from you: 
own heart ; they would be ever present to you ; and ir 
introducing me to your friends, your relatives, if you have 
any, you would feel that — " 

" I don't think we need go into that, Margaret. I see 
how right and how honourable are your motives for sayim 
all this ; but I have thought it over, and do not attach one 
grain ol importance to it. If you say ' yes ' to me, we shal 
live for ourselves, and with a very few friends who wil 
appreciate us for ourselves. Ah, I was going to say that tc 
you. I'm not rich, Margaret, and your life would, I'rr 
afraid, be dull. A small income and a small house, and — " 

" It would be my home, and I should have you ; " and 
for the first time during the interview she gave him one oi 
her long dreamy looks out of her half-shut eyes. 

"Then you will say 'yes,' dearest?" asked Geoff pas- 
sionately. 

" Ah, how can I refuse ! how can I deny myself sucli 
happiness as you hold out to me after the misery I have 



Under the Harrow. 



101 



"Ah, darling, you shall forget that — " 

" But you must not act rashly — must not do in a moment 
what you would repent your life long. Take a week for 
consideration. Go over every thing in your mind, and then 
come back to me and tell me the result." 

" I know it now. O, don't hesitate, Margaret ; don't let 
me wait the horrid week !" 

" It is right, and so we will do it. It will be more tedious 
to me than to you, my — my Geoffrey." 

Ah, how caressingly she spoke, and what a look of love 
and passion glowed in her deep-violet eyes ! 

'• And I am not to see you during this week ? " 

" No j you shall be free from whatever little influence 
my presence may possess. You shall go now. Good-bye." 

" God bless you, my darling !" He bent down and kissed 
her upturned mouth, then was gone. She looked after him 
wistfully; then after some time said softly to herself: "I 
did not believe there lived so good a man." 



CHAPTER XII. 

UNDER THE HARROW. 

MR. BOWKER was not the only one of Geoffrey 
Ludlow's friends to whom that gentleman's inten- 
tions towards the lodger at Flexor's occasioned much 
troubled thought. Charley Potts regarded his friend's in- 
timacy in that quarter with any thing but satisfaction ; and 
an enormous amount of bird's-eye tobacco was consumed by 
that rising young artist in solemn cogitation over what was 
best to be done in the matter. For though Geoffrey had 
reposed no confidence in his friend, and, indeed, had never 
called upon him, and abstained as much as possible from 
meeting him since the night of the adventure outside the 
Titian Sketching-Club, yet Mr. Potts was pretty accurately 
informed of the state of affairs, through the medium of Mr. 
Flexor, then perpetually sitting for the final touches to Gil 
Bias ; and having a tolerable acquaintance with human 
nature, — or being, as he metaphorically expressed it, " able 
to reckon how many blue beans made five," — Mr. Potts 
was enabled to arrive at a pretty accurate idea of how affairs 



102 Land at Last. 

stood in Little Flotsam Street. And affairs, as they existed 
in Little Flotsam Street, were by no means satisfactory to 
Mr. Charles Potts. Had it been a year ago, he would have 
cared but little about it. A man of the world, accustomed 
to take things as they were, without the remotest idea of 
ever setting himself up to correct abuses, or protest against 
a habitude of being not strictly in accordance with the views 
of the most strait-laced, Charley Potts had floated down the 
stream of life, objecting to nothing, objected to by none. 
There were fifty ladies of his acquaintance, passing as the 
wives of fifty men of his acquaintance, pleasant genial 
creatures, capital punch-mixers, — women in whose presence 
you might wear your hat, smoke, talk slang, chaff, and sing ; 
women who knew all the art-gossip, and entered into it; 
whom one could take to the Derby, or who would be 
delighted with a cheap-veal-and-ham-pie, beer-in-a-stone-jar, 
and bottle-of-hot-sherry picnic in Bushey Park,— the copy 
of whose marriage-licenses Charley never expected to see. 
It was nothing to him, he used to say. It might or it might 
not be ; but he didn't think thafjoe's punch would be any 
the stronger, or Tom's weeds any the better, or Bill's bary- 
tone voice one atom more tuneful and chirpy, if the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury had given out the bans and performed 
the ceremony for the lot. There was in it, he thought, a 
glorious phase of the vie de Boheme, a scorn of the respectable 
conventionalities of society, a freedom of thought and action 
possessing a peculiar charm of their own ; and he looked 
upon the persons who married and settled, and paid taxes 
and tradesmen's bills, and had children, and went to bed 
before morning, and didn't smoke clay pipes and sit in their 
shirt-sleeves, with that softened pity with which the man 
bound for Epsom Downs regards the City clerk going to 
business on the Clapham omnibus. 

But within the last few months Mr. Potts's ideas had 
very considerably changed. It was not because he had 
attained the venerable age of thirty, though he was at first 
inclined to ascribe the alteration to that ; it was not that his 
appetite for fun and pleasure had lost any of its keenness, 
nor that he had become "awakened," or "enlightened," or 
subjected to any of the preposterous revival influences of 
the day. It was simply that he had, in the course of his 
intimacy with Geoffrey Ludlow, seen a great deal of Geoffrey 



Under the Harrow. 103 

Ludlow's sister, Til ; and that the result of his acquaintance 
with that young lady was the entire change of his ideas on 
various most important points. It was astonishing, its effect 
on him : how, after an evening at Mrs. Ludlow's tea-table- 
presided over, of course, by Miss Til — Charley Potts, going 
somewhere out to supper among his old set, suddenly had 
his eyes opened to Louie's blackened eyelids and Bella's 
painted cheeks; how Georgie's /^-slips smote with tenfold 
horror on his ear, and Carry's cigarette-smoking made him 
wince with disgust. He had seen all these things before, 
and rather liked them ; it was the contrast that induced the 
new feeling. Ah, those preachers and pedants, — well- 
meaning, right-thinking men, — how utterly futile are the 
means which they use for compassing their ends ! In these 
sceptical times, their pulpit denunciations, their frightful 
stories of wrath to come, are received with polite shoulder- 
shrugs and grins of incredulity; their twopence coloured 
pictures of the Scarlet Woman, their time-worn renderings 
of the street-wanderer, are sneered at as utterly fictitious 
and untrue ; and meanwhile detached villas in St. John's 
Wood, and first-floors in quiet Pimlico streets, command 
the most preposterous rents. Young men will of course be 
young men ; but the period of young-man-ism in that sense 
narrows and contracts every year. The ranks of her 
Scarlet Ladyship's army are now filled with very young 
boys who do not know any better, or elderly men who 
cannot get into the new groove, and who still think that to 
be gentlemanly it is necessary to be immoral. Those 
writers who complain of the "levelling" tone of society, 
and the " fast " manners of our young ladies, scarcely reflect 
upon the improved morality of the age. Our girls — all the 
outcry about fastness and selling themselves for money 
notwithstanding — are as good and as domestic as when 
formed under the literary auspices of Mrs. Chapone ; and — 
granting the existence of Casinos and Anonymas — our young 
men are infinitely more wholesome than the class for whose 
instruction Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, 
penned hisi delicious letters. 

So Mr. Charles Potts, glowing with newly-awakened ideas 
of respectability, began to think that, after all, the vie de 
BoMme was perhaps a mistake, and not equal, in the average 
amount of happiness derived from it, to the vie de Camden 



104 Land at Last. 

Town. He began to think that to pay rent and taxes and 
tradesmen's bills was very likely no dearer, and certainly 
more satisfactory, than to invest in pensions for cast-off 
mistresses and provisions for illegitimate children. He 
began to think, in fact, that a snug little house in the 
suburbs, with his own Lares and Penates about him, and 
Miss Matilda Ludlow, now looking over his shoulder and 
encouraging him at his work, now confronting him at the 
domestic dinner-table, was about the pleasantest thing which 
his fancy could conjure up in his then frame of mind. 

Thinking all this, devoutly hoping it might so fall out, 
and being, like most converts, infinitely more rabid in the 
cause of Virtue than those who had served her with tolerable 
fidelity for a series of years, Mr. Charley Potts heard with 
a dreadful amount of alarm and amazement of Geoffrey 
Ludlow's close connection with a person whose antecedents 
were not comeatable and siftable by a local committee of 
Grundys. A year ago, and Charley would have laughed the 
whole business to scorn ; insisted that every man had a 
right to do as he liked ; slashed at the doubters ; mocked 
their shaking heads and raised shoulders ; and taken no 
heed of any thing that might have been said. But matters 
were different now. Not merely was Charley a recruit in 
the Grundy ranks, having pinned the Grundy colours in his 
coat, and subscribed to the Grundy oath ; but the person 
about to be brought before the Grundy Fehmgericht, or 
court-marshal, was one in whom, should his hopes be re- 
alised, he would have the greatest interest. Though he had 
never dared to express his hopes, though he had not the 
smallest actual foundation for his little air-castle, Charles 
Potts naturally and honestly regarded Matilda Ludlow as 
the purest and most honourable of her sex — as does every 
young fellow regard the girl he loves ; and the idea that she 
should be associated, or intimately connected, with any one 
under a moral taint, was to him terrible and loathsome. 

The moral taint, mind, was all hypothetical. Charles 
Potts had not heard one syllable of Margaret Dacre's history, 
had been told nothing about it, knew nothing of her except 
that he and Geoffrey had saved her from starvation in the 
streets. But when people go in for the public profession of 
virtue, it is astonishing to find how quickly they listen to 
reports of the shortcomings and backslidings of those who 



Utnh'r the JTiirrow. 



!°5 



are not professedly in the same category. It seemed a bit 
of fatalism too, that this acquaintance should have occurred 
immediately on Geoffrey's selling his picture for a large sum 
to Mr. Stompff. Had he not clone this, there is no doubt 
that the other thing would have been heard of by few, 
noticed by none ; but in art, as in literature, and indeed 
in most other professions, no crime is so heavily visited as 
that of being successful. It is the sale of your picture, or 
the success of your novel, that first makes people find out 
how you steal from other people, how your characters are 
mere reproductions of your own personal friends, — for which 
you ought to be shunned, — how laboured is your pathos, 
and how poor your jokes. It is the repetition of your 
success that induces the criticism ; not merely that you are 
a singular instance of the badness of the public taste, but 
that you have a red nose, a decided cast in one eye, and 
that undoubtedly your grandmother had hard labour for 
stealing a clock. Geoff Ludlow the struggling might have 
done as he liked without comment ; on Geoff Ludlow the 
possessor of unlimited commissions from the great Stompff 
it was meet that every vial of virtuous wrath should be 
poured. 

Although Charles Potts knew the loquacity of Mr. Flexor, 
— the story of Geoff s adventure and fascination had gone 
the round of the studios, — he did not think how much of 
what had occurred, or what was likely to occur, was actually 
known, inasmuch as that most men, knowing the close in- 
timacy existing between him and Ludlow, had the decency 
to hold their tongues in his presence. But one day he 
heard a good deal more than every thing. He was painting 
on a fancy head which he called " Diana Vernon," but 
which, in truth, was merely a portrait of Miss Matilda Lud- 
low very slightly idealised (the "Gil Bias" had been sent 
for acceptance or rejection by the Academy Committee), 
and Bowker was sitting by smoking a sympathetic pipe, 
when there came a sharp tug at the bell, and Bowker, 
getting up to open the door, returned with a very rueful 
countenance, closely followed by little Tidd. Now little 
Tidd, though small in stature, was a great ruffian. A 
soured, disappointed little wretch himself, he made it the 
! iiMiiess of his life to go about maligning every one who 
was successful, and endeavouring, when he came across 



io6 Land at Last. 

them personally, to put them out of conceit by hints and 
innuendoes. He was a nasty-looking little man, with an 
always grimy face and hands, a bald head, and a frizzled 
beard. He had a great savage mouth with yellow tusks 
at either end of it ; and he gave you, generally, the sort of 
notion of a man that you would rather not drink after. He 
had been contemporary with Geoffrey Ludlow at the Aca- 
demy, and had been used to say very frankly to him and 
others, "When I become a great man, as I'm sure to do, 
I shall cut all you chaps ;" and he meant it. But yeais had 
passed, and Tidd had not become a great man yet ; on the 
contrary, he had subsided from yards of high-art canvas into 
portrait-painting, and at that he seemed likely to remain. 

"Well, how do you do, Potts?" said Mr. Tidd. " I said 
' How do you do?' to our friend Mr. Bowker at the door. 
Looks well, don't he ? His troubles seem to sit lightly on 
him." Here Mr. Bowker growled a bad word, and seemed 
as if about to spring upon the speaker. 

" And what's this you're doing, Potts ? A charming head ! 
a charming — n-no ! not quite so charming when you get 
close to it ; nose a little out of drawing, and — rather spotty, 
eh? What do you say, Mr. Bowker?" 

" I say, Mr. Tidd, that if you could paint like that, you'd 
give one of your ears." 

" Ah, yes — well, that's not complimentary, but — soured, 
poor man ; sad affair ! Yes, well ! You've sent your Gil 
Bias to the Academy, I suppose, Potts ?" 

"O yes ; he's there, sir ; very likely at this moment being 
held up by a carpenter before the Fatal Three." 

"Ah ! don't be surprised at its being kicked out." 

" I don't intend to be." 

" That's right ; they're sending them back in shoals this 
year, I'm told — in shoals. Have you heard any thing about 
the pictures ?" 

" Nothing, except that Landseer's got something stunning." 

" Landseer, ah !" said Mr. Tidd. " When I think of that 
man, and the prices he gets, my blood boils, sir — boils ! 
That the British public should care about and pay for a lot 
of stupid horses and cattle-pieces, and be indifferent to real 
art, is — well, never mind !" and Mr. Tidd gave himself a 
great blow in the chest, and asked, " What else ?" 

" Nothing else — O yes ! I heard from Rushworth, who'? 



Under the Harrow. 107 

on the Council, you know, that they had been tremendously 
struck by Geoff Ludlow's pictures, and that one or two more 
of the same sort are safe to make him an Associate." 

" What !'' said Mr. Tidd, eagerly biting his nails. " What! 
— an Associate ! Geoffrey Ludlow an Associate !" 

" Ah, that seems strange to you, don't it, Tidd ?" said 
Bowker, speaking for the first time. " I recollect you and 
Geoff together drawing from the life. You were going to do 
every thing in those days, Tidd ; and old Geoff was as quiet 
and as modest as— as he is now. It's the old case of the 
hare and the tortoise ; and you're the hare, Tidd ; — though, 
to look at you," added Mr. Bowker under his breath, "you're 
a d — d sight more like the tortoise, by Jove !" 

"Geoffrey Ludlow an Associate!" repeated Mr. Tidd, 
ignoring Mr. Bowker's remark, and still greedily biting his 
nails. " Well, I should hardly have thought that ; though 
you can't tell what they won't do down in that infernal place 
in Trafalgar Square. They've treated me badly enough ; 
and it's quite like them to make a pet of him." 

" How have they treated you badly, Tidd ?" asked Potts, 
in the hope of turning the conversation away from Ludlow 
and his doings. 

" How !" screamed Tidd ; " in a thousand ways ! They've 
a personal hatred of me, sir — -that's what they have ! I've 
tried every dodge and painted in every school, and they 
won't have me. The year after Smith made a hit with that 
miserable picture ' Measuring Heights,' from the Vicar of 
Wakefield, I 'sent in ' Mr. Burchell cries Fudge !' — kicked 
out ! The year after, Mr. Ford got great praise for his 
wretched daub of ' Dr. Johnson reading Goldsmith's Manu- 
script' I sent in ' Goldsmith, Johnson, and Bozzy at the 
Mitre Tavern ' — kicked out ! — a glorious bit of humour, in 
which I'd represented all three in different stages of drunken- 
ness — kicked out !" 

'' I suppose you've not been used worse than most of us, 
Tidd," growled Mr. Bowker. " She's an unjust stepmother, is 
the R.A. of A. But she snubs pretty nearly every body alike." 

" Not at all !" said Tidd. " Here's this Ludlow—" 

" What of him?" interposed Potts quickly. 

" Can any one say that his painting is— ah, well ! poor 
devil ! it's no good saying any thing more about him ; he'll 
have quite enough to bear on his own shoulders soon." 



io8 Land at Last. 

"What, when he's an Associate!" said Bowker, who 
inwardly was highly delighted at Tidd's evident rage. 

"Associate ! — stuff! I mean when he's married." 

" Married ? Is Ludlow going to be married ? " 

" Of course he is. Haven't you heard it ? it's all over 
town." And indeed it would have been strange if the 
story had not permeated all those parts of the town which 
Mr. Tidd visited, as he himself had laboured energetically 
for its circulation. " It's all over town — O, a horrible thing ! 
horrible thing !" 

Bowker looked across at Charley Potts, who said, " What 
do you mean by a horrible thing, Tidd ? Speak out and tell 
us ; don't be hinting in that way." 

" Well, then, Ludlow's going to marry some dreadful bad 
woman. O, it's a fact ; I know all about it. Ludlow was 
coming home from a dinner-party one night, and he saw 
this woman, who was drunk, nearly run over by an omnibus 
at the Regent Circus. He rushed into the road, and pulled 
her out ; and finding she was so drunk she couldn't speak, 
he got a room for her at Flexor's and took her there, and 
oas been to see her every day since ; and at last he's so 
nadly in love with her that he's going to marry her." 

" Ah !" said Mr. Bowker ; " who is she ? Where did she 
come from ?" 

" Nobody knows where she came from ; but she's a reg'lar 
bad 'un, — as common as dirt. Pity too, ain't it ? for I've 
heard Ludlow's mother is a nice old lady, and I've seen his 
sister, who's stunnin' !" and Mr. Tidd winked his eye. 

This last proceeding finished Charley Potts, and caused 
his wrath, which had been long simmering, to boil over. 
" Look here, Mr. Tidd !" he burst forth; "that story about 
Geoff Ludlow is all lies — all lies, do you hear ! And if I 
find that you're going about spreading it, or if you ever 
mention Miss Ludlow as you did just now, I'll break your 
infernal neck for you !" 

"Mr. Potts!" said Tidd, — •" Mr. Potts, such language! 
Mr. Bowker, did you hear what he said ? " 

"I did," growled old Bowker over his pipe; "and from 
what I know of him, I should think he was deuced likely to 
do it." 

Mr, Tidd seemed to be of the same opinion, for he moved 
towards the door, and slunk out, muttering ominously. 



At the Private View. 109 

"There's a scoundrel for you !" said Charley, when the 
door shut behind the retreating Tidd; " there's a ruffian for 
you ! I've not the least doubt that vagabond got a sort of 
foundation smattering from that blabbing Flexor, and in- 
vented all that about the omnibus and the drunken state 
; \nd the rest of it himself. If that story gets noised about, 
it will do Geoff harm." 

" Of course it will," said Bowker ; " and that's just what 
Tidd wants. However, I think your threat of breaking his 
neck has stopped that little brute's tongue. There are some 
fellows, by Jove ! who'll go on lying and libelling you, and 
who are only checked by the idea of getting a licking, when 
they shut up like telescopes. I don't know what's to be 
done about Geoff. He seems thoroughly determined and 
infatuated." 

" I can't understand it." 

"/can," said old Bowker, sadly; " if she's any thing like 
the head he's painted in his second picture — and I think 
from his manner it must be deuced like her — I can under- 
stand a man's doing any thing for such a woman. Did she 
strike you as being very lovely ?" 

" I couldn't see much of her that night, and she was 
deadly white and ill ; but I didn't think her as good-looking 
as— some that I know." 

" Geoff ought to know about this story that's afloat." 

" I think he ought," said Charley. " I'll walk up to his 
place in a day or two, and see him about it." 

" See him ? " said Bowker. " Ah, all right ! Yesterday 
was not your William's natal day." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

AT THE PRIVATE VIEW. 

THE grand epoch of the artistic year had arrived; the 
tremendous Fehmgericht — appointed to decide on 
the merits of some hundreds of struggling men, to stamp 
their efforts with approval or to blight them with rejection — 
had issued their sentence. The Hanging-Committee had 
gone through their labours and eaten their dinners; every 
inch of space on the walls in Trafalgar Square was duly 



i io Land at Last. 

covered'; the successful men had received intimation of the 
"varnishing day," and to the rejected had been despatched 
a comforting missive, stating that the amount of space at the 
command of the Academy was so small, that, sooner than 
place their works in an objectionable position, the Council 
had determined to ask for their withdrawal. Out of this 
ordeal Geoffrey Ludlow had come splendidly. There had 
always been a notion that he would " do something ;" but 
he had delayed so long — near the mark, but never reaching 
it — that the original belief in his talents had nearly faded 
out. Now, when realisation came, it came with tenfold 
force. The old boys — men of accepted name and fame — 
rejoiced with extra delight in his success because it was one 
in their own line, and without any giving in to the doctrines 
of the new school, which they hated with all their hearts. 
They liked the " Sic vos non vobis " best (for Geoffrey had 
sternly held to his title, and refused all Mr. Stompff's 
entreaties to give it a more popular character); they looked 
upon it as a more thoroughly legitimate piece of work. 
They allowed the excellences of the " Scylla and Charybdis," 
and, indeed, some of them were honest enough to prefer it, 
as a bit of real excellence in painting ; but others objected to 
the pre-Raphaelite tendency to exalt the white face and the 
dead-gold hair into a realisation of beauty. But all were 
agreed that Geoffrey Ludlow had taken the grand step 
which was always anticipated from him, and that he was, 
out and away, the most promising man of the day. So Geoff 
was hung on the line, and received letters from half-a-dozen 
great names- congratulating him on his success, and was in 
the seventh heaven of happiness, principally from the fact 
that in all this he saw a prospect of excellent revenue, of the 
acquisition of money and honour to be shared with a person 
then resident in Mr. Flexor's lodgings, soon to be mistress 
of his own home. 

The kind Fates -had also been propitious to Mr. Charles 
Potts, whose picture of " Gil Bias and the Archbishop " had 
been well placed in the North Room. Mr. Tidd's "Boadicea 
in her Chariot," ten feet by six, had been rejected ; but his 
portrait of W. Bagglehole, Esq., vestry-clerk of St. Wabash, 
Little Britain, looked down from the ceiling of the large 
room and terrified the beholders. 

So at length arrived that grand day of the year to the 



At the Private View. 1 1 1 

Academicians, when they bid certain privileged persons to 
the private view of the pictures previous to their public 
exhibition. Ihefirofauum vit/gits, who arc odi'd and arceo'd, 
pine in vain hope of obtaining a ticket for this great occasion. 
The public press, the members of the Legislature carefully 
sifted, a set of old dowagers who never bought a sketch, and 
who scarcely know a picture from a pipkin, and a few dis- 
tinguished artists, — these are the happy persons who are 
invited to enter the sacred precincts on this eventful day. 
Geoffrey Ludlow never had been inside the walls on such an 
occasion — never expected to be : but on the evening before, 
as he was sitting in his studio smoking a pipe, and thinking 
that within twenty-four hours he would have Margaret's final 
decision, looking back over his short acquaintance with her 
in wonder, looking forward to his future life with her in 
hope, when a mail-phaeton dashed up to the door, and 
in the strident tones, " Catch hold, young 'un," shouted to 
the groom, Geoff recognised the voice of Mr. Stompff, 
and looking out saw that great capitalist descending from 
the vehicle. 

"Hallo, Ludlow!" said Mr. Stompff, entering the studio ; 
"how are you? Quiet pipe after the day's grind? That's 
your sort ! What will I take, you were going to say ? Well, 
I think a little drop of sherry, if you've got it pale and dry, 
— as, being a man of taste, of course you have. Well, those 
duffers at the Academy have hung you well, you see ! Of 
course they have. You know how that's done, of course ?" 

" I had hoped that the — " Geoff began to stutter directly 
it became a personal question with him — " that the — I was 
going to say that the pictures were good enough to — ' ; 

"Pictures good enough! — all stuff! pickles! The 
pictures are good — no use in denying that, and it would be 
deuced stupid in me, who've bought 'em ! But that's not 
why they're so well hung. My men all on the Hanging- 
Committee — twiggez-vons ? Last year there were two of 
Caniche's men, and a horrible fellow who paints religious 
dodges, which no one buys : not one of my men on the line, 
and half of them turned out ! I determined to set that right 
this year, and I've done it. Just you look where Caniche's 
men are to-morrow, that's all !" 

"To-morrow?'' 

"O, ah! that's what brought me here; I forgot to tell 



1 1 2 Land at Last. 

you. Here's a ticket for the private view. I think you 
ought to be there, — show yourself, you know, and that kind 
of thing. And look here : if you see me pointing you out 
to people, don't you be offended. I've lived longer in the 
world than you, and I know what's what. Besides, you're 
part of my establishment just now, and I know the way to 
work the oracle. So don't mind it, that's all. Very decent 
glass of sherry, Ludlow ! I say — -excuse me, but if you 
could wear a white waistcoat to-morrow, I think I should 
like it. English gentleman, you know, and all that ! Some 
of Caniche's fellows are very seedy-looking duffers." 

Geoff smiled, took the ticket, and promised to come, 
terribly uncomfortable at the prospect of notoriety which 
Mr. Stompff had opened for him. But that worthy had not 
done with him yet. 

"After it's all over," said he, "you must come and dine 
with me at Blackwall. Regular business of mine, sir. I 
take down my men and two or three of the newspaper chaps, 
after the private view, and give 'em as good a dinner as 
money can buy. No stint ! I say to Lovegrove, ' You 
know me ! The best, and damn the expense !' and Love- 
grove does it, and it's all right ! It would be difficult for a 
fellow to pitch into any of my men with a recollection of my 
Moselle about him, and a hope that it'll come again next 
year, eh ? Well — won't detain you now ; see you to- 
morrow ; and don't forget the dinner." 

Do you not know this kind of man, and does he not 
permeate English society ? — ■ this coarse ruffian, whose 
apparent good-nature disarms your nascent wrath, and yet 
whose good-nature you know to be merely vulgar ostentatious 
self-assertion under the guise of bonhomie. I take the cha- 
racter I have drawn, but I declare he belongs to all classes. 
I have seen him as publisher to author, as attorney to young 
barrister, as patron to straggler generally. Geoffrey Ludlow 
shrank before him, but shrank in his old feeble hesitating 
way; he had not the pluck to shake off the yoke, and bid 
his employer go to the devil. It was a new phase of life 
for him — a phase which promised competence at a time 
when competence was required ; which, moreover, rid him 
of any doubt or anxiety about the destination of his labour, 
which to a man of Ludlow's temperament was all in all. 
How many of us are there who will sell such wares as 



At the Private View. 113 

Providence has given us the power of producing at a much 
less rate than we could otherwise obtain for them, and to 
most objectionable people, so long as we are enabled to look 
for and to get a certain price, and are absorbed from the 
ignominy of haggling, even though by that haggling we 
should be tenfold enriched ! So Geoffrey Ludlow took Mr. 
Stompff's ticket, and gave him his pale sherry, and promised 
to dine with him, and bowed him out ; and then went back 
into his studio and lit a fresh pipe, and sat down to think 
calmly over all that was about to befall him. 

What came into his mind first? His love, of course. 
There is no man, as yet unanchored in the calm haven of 
marriage, who amidst contending perplexities does not first 
think of what storms and shoals beset his progress in that 
course. And who, so long as there he can see a bit of blue 
sky, a tolerably clear passage, does not, to a great extent, 
ignore the black clouds which he sees banking up to wind- 
ward, the heavy swell crested with a thin, dangerous, white 
line of wave, which threatens his fortunes in another direction. 
Here Geoffrey Ludlow thought himself tolerably secure. 
Margaret had told him all her story, had made the worst 
of it, and had left him to act on her confession. Did she 
love him ? That was a difficult question for a man of Geoff's 
diffidence to judge. But he thought he might unhesitatingly 
answer it in the affirmative. It was her own proposition 
that nothing should be done hurriedly ; that he should take 
the week to calmly reflect over the position, and see whether 
he held by his first avowal. And to-morrow the week 
would be at an end, and he would have the right to ask for 
her decision. 

That decision, if favourable, would at once settle his plans, 
and necessitate an immediate communication to his mother. 
This was a phase of the subject which Geoffrey charac- 
teristically had ignored, put by, and refrained from thinking 
jf as long as possible. But now there was no help for it. 
Under any circumstances he would have endeavoured, on 
marrying, to set up a separate establishment for himself; but 
situated as he was, Avith Margaret Dacre as his intended 
wife, he saw that such a step was inevitable. For though 
he loved his mother with all his heart, he was not blind to 
her weaknesses, and he knew that the " cross " would never 
be more triumphantly brought forward, or more loudly com- 



ii4 Land at Last. 

plained of, than when it took the form of a daughter-in-law, 
— a daughter-in-law, moreover, whose antecedents were not 
held up for the old lady's scrutinising inspection. And here, 
perhaps, was the greatest tribute to the weird influence of 
the dead-gold hair, the pallid face, and the deep-violet eyes. 
A year ago, and Geoff Ludlow would have told you that 
nothing could ever have made him alter his then style of 
life. It had continued too long, he would have told you ; 
he had settled down into a certain state of routine, living 
with the old lady and Til : they understood his ways and 
wishes, and he thought he should never change. And Mrs. 
Ludlow used to say that Geoffrey would never marry now ; 
he did not care for young chits of girls, who were all giggle 
and nonsense, my dear ; a man at his time of life looked for 
something more than that, and where it was to come from 
she, for one, did not know. Miss Matilda had indeed 
different views on the subject ; she thought that dear old 
Geoff would marry, but that it would probably come about 
in this way. Some lovely female member of the aristocracy, 
to whom Geoff had given drawing-lessons, or who had seen 
his pictures, and become imbued with the spirit of poetry in 
them, would say to her father, the haughty earl, " I pine for 
him ; I cannot live without him ;" and to save his darling 
child's health, the earl would give his consent, and bestow 
upon the happy couple estates of the annual value of twenty 
thousand pounds. But then you see Miss Matilda Ludlow 
was given to novel-reading, and though perfectly practical 
and unromantic as regards herself and her career, was apt to 
look upon all appertaining to her brother, whom she adored, 
through a surrounding halo of circulating-library. 

How this great intelligence would, then, be received by 
his home-tenants set Geoff thinking after Stompff 's departure, 
and between the puffs of his pipe he turned the subject 
hither and thither in his mind, and proposed to himself all 
kinds of ways for meeting the difficulty ; none of which, on 
reconsideration, appearing practicable or judicious, he 
reverted to an old and favourite plan of his, that of post- 
poning any further deliberation until the next day, when, as 
he argued with himself, he would have " slept upon it " — a 
most valuable result when the subject is systematically 
ignored up to the time of going to sleep, and after the hour 
of waking — he would have been to the private view at the 



At the Private View. 115 

Academy — which had, of course, an immense deal to do 
with it — and he would have received the final decision from 
Margaret Dacre. O yes, it was useless to think any more 
of it that night. And fully persuaded of this, Geoff turned 
in and fell fast asleep. 

' ; And there won't be a more gentlemanly-looking; man in 
the rooms than our dear old Geoff ! " 

" Stuff, Til ! don't be absurd !" 

" No, I mean it ; and you know it too, you vain old thing ; 
else why are you perpetually looking in the glass ?" 

" No, but — Til, nonsense ! — I suppose I'm all right, eh ?" 

"All right! — you're charming, Geoff! I never saw you 
such a — I can't help it you know — swell before ! Don't 
frown, Geoff; there's no other word that expresses it. One 
would think you were going to meet a lady there. Does 
the Queen go, or any of the young princesses ?" 

" How can you be so ridiculous, Til ! Now, good-bye ;" 
and Geoff ga\ e his sister a hearty kiss, and started off. Miss 
Matilda was right ; he did look perfectly gentlemanly in his 
dark-blue coat, white waistcoat, and small-check trousers. 
Nature, which certainly had denied him personal beauty or 
regularity of feature, had given him two or three marks of 
distinction : his height, his bright earnest eyes, and a certain 
indefinable odd expression, different from the ordinary ruck 
of people — an expression which attracted attention, and 
invariably made people ask who he was. 

It was three o'clock before Geoff arrived at the Academy, 
and the rooms were crowded. The scene was new to him, 
and he stared round in astonishment at the brilliancy of the 
toilettes, and what Charley Potts would have called the " air 
of swelldom" which pervaded the place. It is scarcely 
necessary to say that his first act was to glance at the 
Catalogue to see where his pictures were placed; his 
second, to proceed to them to see how they looked on the 
walls. Round each was a little host of eager inspectors, 
and from what Geoff caught of their conversation, the 
verdict was entirely favourable. But he was not long left in 
doubt. As he was looking on, his arm was seized by Mr. 
Stompff, who, scarcely waiting to carry him out of earshot, 
began, " Well ! you've done it up brown this time, my man, 
and no flies ! Your pictures have woke 'em up. They're 



u6 Land at Last. 

talking of nothing else. I've sold 'em both. Lord Evert on 
— that's him over there : little man with a double eyeglass, 
brown coat and high velvet collar — he's bought the 'Sic 
wos ; ' and Mr. Shirtings of Manchester's got the other. The 
price has been good, sir ; I'm not above denyin' it. There's 
six dozen of Sham ready to go into your cellar whenever 
you say the word : I ain't mean with my men like some 
people. Power of nobs here to-day. There's the Prime 
Minister, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer — that's him 
in the dirty white hat and rumpled coat — and no end of 
bishops and old ladies of title. That's Shirtings, that fat 
man in the black satin waistcoat. Wonderful man, sir, — 
factory-boy in Manchester ! Saved his shillin' a-week, and 
is now worth two hundred thousand. Fine modern collection 
he's got ! That little man in the turn-down collar, with the 
gold pencil-case in his hand, is Scrunch, the art-critic of the 
Scourge. A bitter little beast; but I've squared him. I 
gave him five-and-twenty pounds to write a short account of 
the Punic War, which was given away with Bliff's picture of 
' Regulus,' and he's never pitched into any of my people 
since. He's comin' to dinner to-day. O, by the bye, don't 
be late ! I'll drive you down." 

"Thank you," said Geoff; "I — I've got somewhere to go 
to. I'll find my own way to Blackwall." 

" Ha!" said Stompff, "then it is true, is it? Never mind; 
mum's the word ! I'm tiled ! Look here : don't you mind 
me if you see me doing any thing particular. It's all good 
for business." 

It may have been so, but it was undoubtedly trying. 
During the next two hours Geoff was conscious of Mr. 
Stompff's perpetually hovering round him, always acting as 
cicerone to some different man, to whom he would point 
out Geoff with his forefinger, then whisper in his companion's 
ear, indicate one of Geoff's pictures with his elbow, and 
finish by promenading his friend just under Geoff's nose; the 
stranger making a feeble pretence of looking at some highly- 
hung portrait, but obviously swallowing Geoff with his eyes, 
from his hair to his boots. 

But he had also far more pleasurable experiences of his 
success. Three or four of the leading members of the 
Academy, men of world-wide fame, whom he had known by 
sight, and envied — so far as envy lay in his gentle disDosition 



At the Private View. txj 

— for years, came up to him, and introducing themselves, 
spoke warmly of his picture, and complimented him in most 
flattering terms. By one of these, the greatest of them all, 
Lord Everton was subsequently brought up ; and the kind 
old man, with that courtesy which belongs only to the 
highest breeding, shook hands with him, and expressed his 
delight at being the fortunate possessor of Mr. Ludlow's 
admirable picture, and hoped to have the pleasure of 
receiving him at Everton house, and showing him the gallery 
of old masters, in whose footsteps he, Mr. Ludlow, was so 
swiftly following. 

And then, as Geoffrey was bowing his acknowledgments, 
he heard his name pronounced, and turning round found 
himself close by Lord Caterham's wheel-chair, and had a 
hearty greeting from its occupant. 

"How do you do, Mr. Ludlow? You will recollect 
meeting me at Lady Lilford's, I daresay. I have just been 
looking at your pictures, and I congratulate you most 
earnestly upon them. No, I never flatter. They appear to 
me very remarkable things, especially the evening-party 
scene, where you seem to have given an actual spirit of 
motion to the dancers in the background, so different from 
the ordinary stiff and angular representation. — You can 
leave the chair here for a minute, Stephens. — In such a 
crowd as this, Mr. Ludlow, it's refreshing — is it not? — to 
get a long look at that sheltered pool surrounded by waving 
trees, which Creswick has painted so charmingly. The 
young lady who came with me has gone roving away to 
search for some favourite, whose name she saw in the 
Catalogue ; but if you don't mind waiting with me a minute, 
she will be back, and I know she will be glad to see you, as 
— ah ! here she is !" 

As Geoffrey looked round, a tall young lady with brown 
eyes, a pert inquisitive nose, an undulating figure, and a 
bright laughing mouth, came hurriedly up, and without 
noticing Geoffrey, bent over Lord Caterham's chair, and 
said, " I was quite right, Arthur; it is — " then, in obedience 
to a glance from her companion, she looked up and 
exclaimed, "What, Geoffrey !— Mr. Ludlow, I mean — O, 
how do you do? Why, you don't mean to say you don't 
recollect me?" 

Geoff was a bad courtier at any time, and now the 



ti8 Land at Last. 

expression of his face at the warmth of this salutation 
showed how utterly he was puzzled. 

"You have forgotten, then? And you don't recollect 
those days when — " 

"Stop!" he exclaimed, a sudden light breaking upon 
him; "little Annie Maurice that used to live at Willesden 
Priory ! My little fairy, that I have sketched a thousand 
times. Well, I ought not to have forgotten you, Miss 
Maurice, for I have studied your features often enough 
to have impressed them on my memory. But how could 
I recognise my little elfin such a dashing young lady?" 

Lord Caterham looked up at them out of the corners of 
his eyes as they stood warmly shaking hands, and for a 
moment his face wore a pained expression ; but it passed 
away directly, and his voice was as cheery as usual as he 
said, " Et nos mutamur in Hits, eh, Mr. Ludlow? Little fays 
grow into dashing young ladies, and indolent young sketchers 
become the favourites of the Academy." 

"Ay," said Annie; "and the dear old Priory let to other 
people, and many of those who made those times so 
pleasant are dead and gone. O, Geoffrey — Mr. Ludlow, I 
mean — " 

" Yes," said Geoff, interrupting her ; " and Geoffrey turned 
into Mr. Ludlow, and Annie into Miss Maurice : there's 
another result of the flight of time, and one which I, for my 
part, heartily object to." 

" Ah, but, Mr. Ludlow, I must bespeak a proper amount 
of veneration for you on the part of this young lady," said 
Lord Caterham ; " for I am about to ask you to do me a 
personal favour in which she is involved." 

Geoff bowed absently; he was already thinking it was 
time for him to go to Margaret. 

" Miss Maurice is good enough to stay with my family for 
the present, Mr. Ludlow ; and I am very anxious that she 
should avail herself of the opportunity of cultivating a talent 
for drawing which she undoubtedly possesses." 

" She used to sketch very nicely years ago," said Geoff, 
turning to her with a smile ; and her face was radiant with 
good humour as she said : 

" O, Geoffrey, do you recollect my attempts at cows?" 

" So, in order to give her this chance, and in the hope of 
making her attempt at cows more creditable than it seems 



At the Private View. 119 

they used to be, I am going to ask you, Mr. Ludlow, 
to undertake Miss Maurice's artistic education, to give 
her as much of your time as you can spare, and, in fact, 
to give what I think I may call her genius the right inclina- 
tion." 

Geoffrey hesitated of course — it was his normal state — 
and he said doubtingly : " You're very good ; but I — I'm 
almost afraid — " 

"You are not bashful, I trust, Mr. Ludlow," said Lord 
Caterham ; "I have seen plenty of your work at Lady 
Lilford's, and I know you to be perfectly competent." 

"It was scarcely that, my lord; I rather think that — " 
but when he got thus far he looked up and saw Annie 
Maurice's brown eyes lifted to his in such an appealing 
glance that he finished his sentence by saying : " Well, I 
shall be very happy indeed to do all that I can — for old 
acquaintance-sake, Annie;" and he held out his hand frankly 
to her. 

" You are both very good," she said ; " and it will be a 
real pleasure to me to re-commence my lessons, and to try 
to prove to you, Geoffrey, that I'm not so impatient or so 
stupid as I was. When shall we begin?" 

"The sooner the better, don't you think, Mr. Ludlow?" 
said Lord Caterham. 

Geoff felt his face flush as he said : " I — I expect to be 
going out of town for a week or two ; but when I return I 
shall be delighted to commence." 

" When you return we shall be delighted to see you. I 
can fully understand how you long for a little rest and 
change after your hard work, Mr. Ludlow. Now good-bye 
to you; I hope this is but the beginning of an intimate 
acquaintance." And Lord Caterham, nodding to Geoffrey, 
called Stephens and was wheeled away. 

" I like that man, Annie," said he, when they were out of 
earshot ; " he has a thoroughly good face, and the truth and 
honesty of his eyes overbalance the weakness of the mouth, 
which is undecided, but not shifty. His manner is honest, 
too; don't you think so?" 

He waited an instant for an answer, but Annie did not 
speak. 

" Didn't you hear me, Annie ? or am I not worth a 
reply?" 



1 20 Land at Last, 



a ■ 



: I — I beg your pardon, Arthur. I heard you perfectly ; 
but I was thinking. O yes, I should think Mr. Ludlow was 
as honest as the day." 

" But what made you distraite ? What were you think- 
ing of?" 

" I was thinking what a wonderful difference a few years 
made. I was thinking of my old ideas of Mr. Ludlow when 
he used to come out to dine with papa, and sleep at our 
house ; how he had long dark hair, which he used to toss 
off his face, and poor papa used to laugh at him and call 
him an enthusiast. I saw hundreds of silver threads in his 
hair just now, and he seemed — well, I don't know — so much 
more constrained and conventional than I recollect him." 

"You seem to forget that you had frocks and trousers 
and trundled a hoop in those days, Annie. You were a 
little fay then ; you are a Venus now : in a few years you 
will be married, and then you must sit to Mr. Ludlow for a 
Juno. It is only your pretty flowers that change so much ; 
your hollies and yews keep pretty much the same throughout 
the year." 

From the tone of voice in which Lord Caterham made 
this last remark, Annie knew very well that he was in one of 
those bitter humours which, when his malady was considered, 
came surprisingly seldom upon him, and she knew that a 
reply would only have aggravated his temper, so she forbore 
and walked silently by his side. 

No sooner did he find himself free than Geoffrey Ludloiv 
hurried from the Academy, and jumping into a cab, drov^ 
off at once to Little Flotsam Street. Never since Margaret 
Dacre had been denizened at Flexor's had Geoff approached 
the neighbourhood without a fluttering at his heart, a sinking 
of his spirits, a general notion of fright and something about 
to happen. But now, whether it was that his success at the 
Academy and the kind words he had had from all his friends 
had given him courage, it is impossible to say, but he 
certainly jumped out of the hansom without the faintest 
feeling of disquietude, and walked hurriedly perhaps, but by 
no means nervously, up to Flexor's door. 

Margaret was in, of course. He found her, the very 
perfection of neatness, watering some flowers in her window 
which he had sent her. She had on a tight-fitting cotton 
dress of a very small pattern, and her hair was neatly 



At the Private View. 121 

braided over her ears. He had seen her look more 
voluptuous, never more piquante and irresistible. She came 
across the room to him with outstretched hand and raised 
eyebrows. 

"You have come !" she said; "that's good of you, for I 
scarcely expected you." 

Geoff stopped suddenly. " Scarcely expected me ! Yet 
you must know that to-day the week is ended." 

" I knew that well enough; but I heard from the woman 
of the house here that to-day is the private view of the 
Academy, and I knew how much you would be engaged." 

"And did you think that I should suffer any thing to 
keep me from coming to you to-day?" 

She paused a minute, then looked him full in the face. 
" Xo ; frankly and honestly I did not. I was using conven- 
tionalisms and talking society to you. I never will do so 
again. I knew you would come, and — and I longed for 
your coming, to tell you my delight at what I hear is your 
glorious success." 

'■ My greatest triumph is in your appreciation of it," said 
Geoff. " Having said to you what I did a week ago, you 
must know perfectly that the end and aim of all I think, of 
all I undertake, is connected with you. And you must not 
keep me in suspense, Margaret, please. You must tell me 
your decision." 

" My decision ! Now did we not part, at my suggestion, 
for a week's adjournment, during which you should turn 
over in your mind certain positions which I had placed 
before you? And now, the week ended, you ask for my 
decision ! Surely rather I ought to put the question." 

"A week ago I said to you, 'Margaret, be my wife.' It 
was not very romantically put, I confess; but I'm not a 
very romantic person. You told me to wait a week, to 
think over all the circumstances of our acquaintance, and to 
see whether my determination held good. The week is 
over ; I've done all you said ; and I've come again to say, 
Margaret, be my wife." 

It was rather a long speech this for Geoff; and as he 
uttered it his dear old face glowed with honest fervour. 

" You have thoroughly made up your mind, considered 
every thing, and decided?" 

" I have." 



122 Land at Last. 

" Mind, in telling you the story of my past life, I spoke 
out freely, regardless of my own feelings and of yours. You 
owe me an equal candour. You have thought of all ?" 

" Of all." 

"And you still — " 

" I still repeat that one demand." 

" Then I say ' Yes,' frankly and freely. Geoffrey Ludlow, 
I will be your wife ; and by Heaven's help I will make your 
life happy, and atone for my past. I — " 

And she did not say any more just then, for Geoff stopped 
her lips with a kiss. 

"What can have become of Ludlow?" said Mr. Stompff 
for about the twentieth time, as he came back into the 
dining-room, after craning over the balcony and looking all 
round. 

"Giving himself airs on account of his success," said 
genial Mr. Bowie, the art-critic. " I wouldn't wait any 
longer for him, Stompff." 

" I won't," said Stompff. " Dinner !" 

The dinner was excellent, the wine good and plentiful, 
the guests well assorted, and the conversation as racy and 
salted as it usually is when a hecatomb of absent friends is 
duly slaughtered by the company. Each man said the 
direst things he could about his own personal enemies ; 
and there were but very few cases in which the rest of the 
convives did not join in chorus. It was during a pause in 
this kind of conversation — much later in the evening, when 
the windows had been thrown open, and most of the men 
were smoking in the balcony — that little Tommy Smalt, who 
had done full justice to the claret, took his cigar from his 
mouth, leaned lazily back, and looking up at the moonlit 
sky, felt in such a happy state of repletion and tobacco as 
to be momentarily charitable — the which feeling induced 
him to say : 

" I wish Ludlow had been with us !" 

" His own fault that he's not," said Mr. Stompff; " his 
own fault entirely. However, he's missed a pleasant 
evening. I rather think we've had the pull of him." 

Had Geoff missed a pleasant evening? He thought 
otherwise. He thought he had never had such an evening 
in his life ; for the same cold steel-blue rays of the early 



Those Twain one Flesh. 1 23 

spring moon which fell upon the topers in the Blackwall 
balcony came gleaming in through Mr. Flexor's first-floor 
window, lighting up a pallid face set in a frame of dead-gold 
hair and pillowed on Geoffrey Ludlow's breast. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THOSE TWAIN ONE FLESH. 

SO it was a settled thing between Margaret Dacre and 
Geoffrey Ludlow. She had acceded to his earnest 
demand — demand thrice repeated — after due consideration 
and delay, and she was to become his wife forthwith. 
Indeed, their colloquy on that delicious moonlight evening 
would have been brought to a conclusion much sooner than 
it was, had not Geoff stalwartly declared and manfully held 
to his determination, spite of every protest, not to go until 
they had settled upon a day on which to be married. He 
did not see the use of waiting, he said ; it would get buzzed 
about by the Flexors ; and all sorts of impertinent remarks 
and congratulations would be made, which they could very 
well do without. Of course, as regarded herself, Margaret 
would want a — what do you call it ? — outfit, trousseau, that 
was the word. But it appeared to him that all he had to do 
was to give her the money, and all she had to do was to go 
out and get the things she wanted, and that need not take 
any time, or hinder them from naming a day — well, let us 
say in next week. He himself had certain little arrangements 
to make j but he could very well get through them all in 
that time. And what did Margaret say ? 

Margaret did not say very much. She had been lying 
perfectly tranquil in Geoffrey's arms ; a position which, she 
said, first gave her assurance that her new life had indeed 
begun. She should be able to realise it more fully, she 
thought, when she commenced in a home of her own, and 
in a fresh atmosphere ; and as the prying curiosity of the 
Flexors daily increased, and as Little Flotsam Street, with 
its normal pavement of refuse and its high grim house-rows 
scarcely admitting any light, was an objectionable residence, 
she could urge no reason for delay. So a day at the end ot 
the ensuing week was fixed upon ; and no sooner had i( 



124 Land at Last. 

been finally determined than Geoff, looking round at pre- 
parations which were absolutely necessary, was amazed at 
their number and magnitude. 

He should be away a fortnight, he calculated, perhaps 
longer ; and it was necessary to apprise the families and the 
one or two " ladies' colleges " in which he taught drawing of 
his absence. He would also let Stompff know that he would 
not find him in his studio during the next few days (for it 
was the habit of this great entrepreneur to pay frequent visits 
to his proteges, just to " give 'em a look-up," as he said ; but 
in reality to see that they were not doing work for any 
opposition dealer) ; but he should simply tell Stompff that 
he was going out of town for a little change, leaving that 
worthy to imagine that he wanted rest after his hard work. 
And then came a point at which he hitched up at once, and 
was metaphorically thrown on his beam-ends. What was 
he to say to his mother and sister and to his intimate friends ? 

To the last, of course, there was no actual necessity to say 
any thing, save that he knew he must have some one to 
"give away " the bride, and he would have preferred one of 
his old friends, even at the risk of an explanation, to Flexor, 
hired for five shillings, and duly got up in the costume of 
the old English gentleman. But to his mother and sister it 
was absolutely necessary that some kind of notice should be 
given. It was necessary they should know that the little 
household, which, despite various small interruptions, had 
been carried on so long in amity and affection, would be 
broken up, so far as h<i was concerned ; also necessary that 
they should know that his contribution to the household 
income would remain exactly the same as though he still 
partook of its benefits. He had to say all this ; and he was 
as frightened as a child. He thought of writing at first, and 
of leaving a letter to be given to his mother after the cere- 
mony was over ; of giving a bare history in a letter, and an 
amount of affection in the postscript which would melt the 
stoniest maternal heart. Bui a little reflection caused him 
to think better of this notion, and determined him to seek an 
interview with his mother. It was due to her, and he would 
go through with it. 

So one morning, when he had watched his sister Til safe 
off into a prolonged diplomatic controversy with the cook, in- 
volving the reception of divers ambassadors from the butcher 



Those Twain one Flesh. 125 

and other tradespeople, Geoff made his way into his mother's 
room, and found her knitting something which might have 
been either an antimacassar for a giant or a counterpane for 
a child, and at once intimated his pleasure at finding her 
alone, as he had " something to say to her." 

This was an ominous beginning in Mrs. Ludlow's ears, and 
her " cross " at once stood out visibly before her ; Constantine 
himself had never seen it plainer. The mere pronunciation 
of the phrase made her nervous ; she ought to have 
" dropped one and taken up two ;" but her hands got com- 
plicated, and she stopped with a knitting-needle in mid-air. 

" If you're alluding to the butcher's book, Geoffrey," 
she said, " I hold myself blameless. It was understood, 
thoroughly understood, that it should be eightpence a pound 
all round ; and if Smithers chooses to charge ninepence-half- 
penny for lamb, and you allow it, I don't hold myself re- 
sponsible. I said to your sister at the time — I said, ' Matilda, 
I'm sure Geoffrey — ' " 

" It's not that, mother, I want to talk to you about," said 
Geoff, with a half-smile ; " it's a bigger subject than the 
price of butcher's meat. I want to talk to you about myself 
— about my future life." 

" Very well, Geoffrey ; that does not come upon me un- 
awares. I am a woman of the world. I ought to be, con- 
sidering the time I had with your poor father ; and I suppose 
that now you're making a name, you'll find it necessary to 
entertain. He did, poor fellow, though it's little enough 
name or money he ever made ! But if you want to see your 
friends round you, there must be help in the kitchen. There 
are certain things — jellies, and that like — that must come 
from the pastry-cook's ; but all the rest we can do very well 
at home with a little help in the kitchen." 

<: You don't comprehend me yet, mother. I — I'm going 
to leave you." 

" To leave us ! — O, to live away ! Very well, Geoffrey," 
said the old lady, bridling up; "if you've grown too grand 
to live with your mother, I can only say I'm sorry for you. 
Though I never saw my name in print in the Times news- 
paper, except among the marriages ; and if that's to be the 
effect it has upon me, I hope I never shall." 

" My dear mother, how can you imagine any thing so 
absurd ! The truth is—" 



126 Land at Last. 

" O yes, Geoffrey, I understand. I've not lived for sixty 
years in the world for nothing. Not that there's been ever 
the least word said about your friends coming pipe-smoking 
at all times of the night, or hot water required for spirits 
when Emma was that dead with sleep she could scarcely 
move ; nor about young persons — female models you call 
them — trolloping misses I say." 

It is worthy of remark that in all business matters Mrs. 
Ludlow was accustomed to treat her son as a cipher, for- 
getting that two-thirds of the income by which the house was 
supported were contributed by him. There was no thought 
of this, however, in honest old Geoff's mind as he said, 

" Mother, you won't hear me out ! The fact is, I'm going 
to be married." 

"To be married, Geoffrey !" said the old lady, in a voice 
that was much softer and rather tremulous ; " to be married, 
my dear boy ! Well, that is news !" Her hands trembled 
as she laid them on his big shoulders and put up her face to 
kiss him. "Well, well, to be sure ! I never thought you'd 
marry now, Geoffrey. I looked upon you as a confirmed 
old bachelor. And who is it that has caught you at last? 
Not Miss Sanders, is it ?" 

Geoffrey shook his head. 

" I thought not. No, that would never do. Nice kind 
of girl too ; but if we're to hold our heads so high when all 
our money comes out of sugar-hogsheads in Thames Street, 
why where will be the end of it, I should like to know ? It 
isn't Miss Hall ?" 

Geoffrey repeated his shake. 

" Well, I'm glad of it ; not but what I'm very fond of 
Emily Hall ; but that half-pay father of hers ! I shouldn't 
like some of the people about here to know that we were 
related to a half-pay captain with a wooden leg ; and he'd 
be always clumping about the house, and be horrible for the 
carpets ! Well, if it isn't Minnie Beverley, I'll give it up ; 
for you'd never go marrying that tall Dickenson, who's more 
like a dromedary than a woman !" 

" It is not Minnie Beverley, nor the young lady who's like 
a dromedary," said Geoff, laughing. " The young lady I am 
going to marry is a stranger to you ; you have never even 
seen her." 

"Never seen her! O Geoff !" cried the old lady, with 



Those Twain one Flesh. 127 

horror in her face, " you're never going to marry one of those 
trolloping models, and bring her home to live with us?" 

" No, no, mother ; you need be under no alarm. This 
young lady, who is from the country, is thoroughly ladylike 
and well educated. But I shall not bring her home to you ; 
we shall have a house of our own." 

" And what shall we do, Til and I ? O, Geoffrey, I shall 
never have to go into lodgings at my time of life, shall I, 
and after having kept house and had my own plate and 
linen for so many years ?" 

'• Mother, do you imagine I should increase my own 
happiness at the expense of yours ? Of course you'll keep 
this house, and all arrangements will go on just the same as 
usual, except that I sha'n't be here to worry you." 

" You never worried me, my dear," said the old lady, as 
all his generosity and noble unselfishness rose before her 
mind; "you never worried me, but have been always the 
best of sons ; and pray God that you may be happy, for you 
deserve it." She put her arms round his neck and kissed 
him fondly, while the tears trickled down her cheeks. " Ah, 
here's Til," she continued, drying her eyes ; " it would never 
do to let her see me being so silly." 

"O, here you are at last!" said Miss Til, who, as they 
both noticed, had a very high colour and was generally 
suffused about the face and neck; "what have you been 
conspiring about ? The Mater looks as guilty as possible, 
doesn't she, Geoff? and you're not much better, sir. What 
is the matter?" 

" I suspect you're simply attempting the authoritative to 
cover your own confusion, Til. There's something — " 

" No, no ! I won't be put off in that manner ! What is 
the matter?" 

•' There's nothing the matter, my dear," said Mrs. Ludlow, 
who by this time had recovered her composure; "though 
there is some great news. Geoffrey's going to be married !" 

"What !" exclaimed Miss Til, and then made one spring 
into his arms. " O, you darling old Geoff, you don't say so ? 
O, how quiet you have kept it, you horrible hypocrite, 
seeing us day after day and never breathing a word about 
it ! Now, who is it, at once ? Stop, shall I guess ? Is it 
any one I know ?" 

" No one that you know." 



128 Land at Last. 

" O, I am so glad ! Do you know, I think I hate mosf 
people I know— girls, I mean ; and I'm sure none of them 
are nice enough for . my Geoff. Now, what's she like, 
Geoff?" 

" O, I don't know." 

" That's what men always say — so tiresome ! Is she dark 
or fair?" 

"Well, fair, I suppose." 

" And what coloured hair and eyes?" 

" Eh ? well, her hair is red, I think." 

" Red ! Lor, Geoff! what they call carrots?" 

" No ; deep-red, like red gold — " 

" O, Geoff, I know, I know ! Like the Scylla in the 
picture. O, you worse than fox, to deceive me in that way, 
telling me it was a model, and all the rest of it. Well, it 
she's like that, she must be wonderful to look at, and I'm 
dying to see her. What's her name ?" 

" Margaret." 

" Margaret ! That's very nice ; I like Margaret very 
much. Of course you'll never let yourself be sufficiently 
childishly spoony to let it drop into Peggy, which is atrocious. 
I'm very glad she's got a nice name ; for, do all I could, I'm 
certain I never could like a sister-in-law who was called 
Belinda or Keziah, or any thing dreadful." 

" Have you fixed your wedding-day, Geoffrey ?" 

" Yes, mother ; for Thursday next." 

" Thursday !" exclaimed Miss Til. " Thursday next ? why 
there'll be no time for me to get anything ready ; for I sup- 
pose, as your sister, Geoff, I'm to be one of the bridesmaids?" 

" There will be no bridesmaids, dear Til," said Geoffrey ; 
" no company, no breakfast. I have always thought that, it 
ever I married, I should like to walk into the church with 
my bride, have the service gone through, and walk out again, 
without the least attempt at show ; and I'm glad to find that 
Margaret thoroughly coincides with me." 

" But surely, Geoffrey," said Mrs. Ludlow, " your friends 
will—" 

" O my ! Talking of friends," interrupted Miss Til, " I 
quite forgot in all this flurry to tell you that Mr. Charles 
Potts is in the drawing-room, waiting to see you, Geoffrey." 

" Dear me ! is he indeed ? ah, that accounts for a flushed 
face—" 



Those Twain one Flesh. 129 

" Don't be absurd, Geoff ! Shall I tell him to come here?" 

" You may if you like ; but don't come back with him, as 
I want rive minutes' quiet talk with him." 

So Mrs. Ludlow and her daughter left the studio, and in a 
few minutes Charley Potts arrived. As he walked up to 
Geoffrey and wrung his hand, both men seemed under some 
little constraint. Geoff spoke first. 

" I'm glad you're here, Charley. I -should have gone up 
to your place if you hadn't looked in to-day. I have some- 
thing to tell you, and something to ask of you." 

" Tell away, old boy ; and as for the asking, look upon it 
as done, — unless it's tin, by the way; and there I'm no good 
just now." 

"Charley, I'm going to be married next Thursday to 
Margaret Dacre — the girl we found fainting in the streets 
that night of the Titians." 

Geoff expected some exclamation, but his friend only 
nodded his head. 

" She has told me her whole life : insisted upon my hearing 
it before I said a word to her ; made me wait a week after I 
had asked her to be my wife, on the chance that I should 
repent ; behaved in the noblest way." 

Geoffrey again paused, and Mr. Potts again nodded. 

" We shall be married very quietly at the parish-church 
here ; and there will be nobody present but you. I want 
you to come ; will you ?" 

"Will I? Why, old man, we've been like brothers for 
years ; and to think that I'd desert you at a time like this ! 
I — I didn't quite mean that, you know ; but if not, why not ? 
You know what I do mean." 

" Thanks, Charley. One thing more : don't talk about it 
until after it's over. I'm an awkward subject for chaff, par- 
ticularly such chaff as this would give rise to. You may 
tell old Bowker, if you like ; but no one else." 

And Mr. Potts went away without delivering that tre- 
mendous philippic with which he had come charged. Per- 
haps it was his conversation with Miss Til in the drawing- 
room which had softened his manners and prevented him 
from being brutal. 

They were married on the following Thursday ; Margaret 
looking perfectly lovely in her brown-silk dress and white 
bonnet Charley Potts could not believe her to be the 



130 Land at Last. 

haggard creature in whose rescue he had assisted; an 
simple old William Bowker, peering out from between th 
curtains of a high pew, was amazed at her strange weir 
beauty. The ceremony was over ; and Geoff, happy an 
proud, was leading his wife down the steps of the church t 
the fly waiting for them, when a procession of carriage: 
coachmen and footmen with white favours, and gaily-cla 
company, all betokening another wedding, drove up to th 
door. The bride and her bridesmaids had alighted, and th 
bridegroom's best-man, who with his friend had just jumpe 
out of his cabriolet, was bowing to the bridesmaids as Geo 
and Margaret passed. He was a pleasant any fellow, an 
seeing a pretty woman coming down the steps, he looke 
hard at her. Their eyes met, and there was something i 
Margaret's glance which stopped him in the act of raisin 
his hand to his hat. Geoffrey saw nothing of this ; he we 
waving his hand to Bowker, who was standing by ; and the 
passed on to the fly. 

"Come on, Algy !" called out the impatient intende 
bridegroom ; " they'll be waiting for us in the church. Wh; 
on earth are you staring at?" 

" Nothing, dear old boy !" said Algy Barford, who was th 
best man just named, — " nothing but a resurrection ! — on! 
a resurrection ; by Jove, that's all !" 



New Relations, 131 



§00k % &M0tttf. 



CHAPTER I. 

NEW RELATIONS. 

THE fact of her having a daughter-in-law whom she had 
never seen, of whose connections and antecedents 
she knew positively nothing, weighed a good deal on Mrs. 
Ludlow's mind. " If she had been an Indian, my dear," 
she said to her daughter Matilda, " at least, I don't mean 
an Indian, not black you know ; of course not — ridiculous ; 
but one of those young women who are sent out to India 
by their friends to pick up husbands, — it would be a different 
matter. Of course, then I could not have seen her until 
she came over to England ; and as Geoff has never been in 
India, I don't quite see how it could have happened; but 
you know what I mean. But to think that she should have 
been living in London, within the bills of thingummy— 
mortality, and Geoff never to bring her to see me, is most 
extraordinary — most extraordinary ! However, it only goes 
to prove what I've said — that I have a cross to bear ; and 
now my son's marrying himself in a most mysterious and 
Arabian-nights-like manner is added to the short-weight 
which we always get from the baker, and to the exceeding 
forwardness shown by that young man with the pomatumed 
hair and the steel heart stuck into his apron, whenever you 
go into the grocer's shop." 

And although Miss Matilda combated this idea with great 
resolution, albeit by no means comfortable in her own mind 
as to Geoffrey's proceedings, the old lady continued in 
a state of mind in which indignation at a sense of what 
she imagined the slight put upon her was only exceeded by 
her curiosity to catch a glimpse of her son's intended ; 
under the influence of which latter feeling she even proposed 
to Til that they should attend the church on the occasion of 
the marriage-ceremony. " I can put on my Maltese-lace 
veil, you know, my dear : and if we gave the pew-opener 



13 2 Land at Last. 

sixpence, she'd put us into a place in the gallery where we 
could hide behind a pillar, and be unseen spectators of the 
proceedings." But this suggestion was received with so 
much disfavour by her daughter that the old lady was 
compelled to abandon it, together with an idea, which she 
subsequently broached, of having Mr. Potts to supper, — 
giving him sprats, or tripe, or some of those odd things that 
men like ; and then, when he was having a glass of spirits- 
and-water and smoking a pipe, getting him to tell us all 
about it, and how it went off. So Mrs. Ludlow was obliged 
to content herself with a line from Geoffrey, — received two 
or three days after his marriage, saying that he was well and 
happy, and that his Margaret sent her love (" She might 
have written that herself, I think ! " said the old lady ; 
" it would have been only respectful ; but perhaps she 
can't write. Lord, Lord ! to think we should have come 
to this!"), — and with a short report from Mr. Potts, whom 
Til had met, accidentally of course, walking one morning 
near the house, and who said that all had gone off capitally, 
and that the bride had looked perfectly lovely. 

But there was balm in Gilead ; and consolation came to 
old Mrs. Ludlow in the shape of a letter from Geoffrey at 
the end of the first week of his absence, requesting his 
mother and sister to see to the arrangement of his new 
house, the furniture of which was all ordered, and would 
be sent in On a certain day, when he wished Til and his 
mother to be present. Now the taking of this new house, 
and all in connection with it, had been a source of great 
disquietude and much conversation to the old lady, who 
had speculated upon its situation, its size, shape, conve- 
niences, &c, with every one of her little circle of acquain- 
tance. " Might be in the moon, my dear, for all we know 
about it," she used to say; "one would think that one's 
own son would mention where he was going to live — to 
his mother, at least : but Geoff is that tenacious, that — well, 
I suppose it's part of the cross of my life." But the infor- 
mation had come at last, and the old lady was to have 
a hand, however subordinate, in the arrangements ; and she 
was proportionately pleased. "And now, Til, where is it, 
once more ! Just read the letter again, will you ? — for 
we're to be there the first thing to-morrow morning, Geoff 
says. What ? — O, the vans will be there the first thing 



New Relations. 133 

to-morrow morning ! Yes, 1 know what the vans' first 
thing is — eleven o'clock or thereabouts ; and then the men 
to go out for dinner at twelve, and not come back till half- 
past two, if somebody isn't there to hunt them up ! The 
Kim Lodge, Lowbar ! Lowbar ! Why, that's Holloway 
and Whittington, and all that turn-again nonsense about 
the bells ! Well, I'm sure ! Talk about the poles being 
asunder, my dear ; they're not more asunder than Brompton 
and Lowbar. O, of course that's done that he needn't see 
more of us than he chooses, though there was no occasion 
for that, I'm sure, at least so far as I'm concerned ; I know 
when I'm wanted fast enough, and act accordingly." 

" I don't think there was any such idea in Geoff's mind, 
mamma," said Til; "he always had a wish to go to the 
other side of town, as he found this too relaxing." 

" Other side of town, indeed, my dear ?— other side of 
England, you mean ! This side has always been good 
enough for me; but then, you see, I never was a public 
character. However, if we are to go, we'd better have 
Brown's fly ; it's no good our trapesing about in omnibuses 
that distance, and perhaps taking the wrong one, and I 
don't know what." 

But the old lady's wrath (which, indeed, did not deserve 
the name of wrath, but would be better described as a kind 
of perpetual grumble, in which she delighted) melted away 
when, on the following morning, Brown's fly, striking off to 
the left soon after it commenced ascending the rise of 
Lowbar Hill, turned into a pretty country road, and stopped 
before a charming little house, bearing the name " Elm 
Lodge" on its gate-pillars. The house, which stood on 
a small eminence, was approached by a little carriage- 
sweep; had a little lawn in front, on which it opened from 
French windows, covered by a veranda, nestling under 
climbing clematis and jasmine; had the prettiest little rustic 
portico, floored with porcelain tiles ; a cosy dining-room, a 
pretty little drawing-room with the French windows before 
named, and a capital painting-room. From the windows 
you had a splendid view over broad fields leading to Hamp- 
stead, with Harrow church fringing the distant horizon. 
Xobody could deny that it was a charming little place ; and 
Mrs. Ludlow admitted the fact at once. 

'• Very nice, very nice indeed, my dear Til !" said she ; 



134 Land at Last 

" Geoffrey has inherited my taste— that I will say for him. 
Rather earwiggy, I should think, all that green stuff over 
the balcony ; too much so for me ; however, I'm not going 
to live here, so it don't matter. Oh ! the vans have arrived ! 
Well, my stars ! all in suites ! Walnut and green silk for 
the drawing room, black oak and dark-brown velvet for the 
dining-room, did you say, man ? It's never — no, my dear, 
I thought not ; it's not real velvet, — Utrecht, my dear ; I 
just felt it. I thought Geoff would never be so insane as to 
have real ; though, as it is, it must have cost a pretty penny. 
Well, he never gave us any thing of this sort at Brompton ; 
of course not." 

" O, mother, how can you talk so !" said Til ; " Geoff has 
always been nobly generous ; but recollect he's only just 
beginning to make money." 

" Quite true, my dear, quite true ; and he's been the best 
of sons. Only I should have liked for once to have had 
the chance of showing my taste in such matters. In your 
poor father's time every thing was so heavy and clumsy 
compared to what it is nowadays, and — there ! I would 
have had none of your rubbishing Cupids like that, holding 
up those stupid baskets." 

So the old lady chattered on, by no means allowing her 
energy to relax by reason of her talk, but bustling about 
with determined vigour. When she had tucked up her 
dress, and got a duster into her hand, she was happy, flying 
at looking-glasses and picture-frames, and rubbing off in- 
finitesimal atoms of dirt ; planting herself resolutely in every 
body's way, and hunting up, or, as she termed it " hinching," 
the upholsterer's men in the most determined manner. 

" I know 'em, my dear ; a pack of lazy carpet-caps ; do 
nothing unless you hinch 'em;" and so she worried and 
nagged and hustled and drove the men, until the pointed 
inquiry of one of them as to " who was that //old cat ?" 
suggested to Miss Til the propriety of withdrawing her 
mother from the scene of action. But she had done an 
immense deal of good, and caused such progress to be 
made, that before they left, the rooms had begun to assume 
something like a habitable appearance. They went to take 
one more look round the nouse before getting into Brown's 
fly ; and it was while they were upstairs that Mrs. Ludlow 
opened a door which she had not seen before — a door 



Ne?o RdaiiohS. 135 

leading into a charming little room, with light chintz paper 
and chintz hangings, with a maple writing-table in the 
window, and a cosy lounge-chair and a prie-dieu ; and 
niches on cither side the fire-place occupied by. little book- 
cases, into which the foreman of the upholsterers was 
placing a number of handsomely-bound books, which he 
took from a box on the floor. 

•' Why, good Lord ! what's this ?" said the old lady, as 
soon as she recovered her breath. 

"This is the budwaw, mum," said the foreman, thinking 
he had been addressed. 

'■ The what, man ? What does he say, Matilda ?" 

' ' The budwaw, mum ; Mrs. Ludlow's own room as is to 
be. Mr. Ludlow was most partickler about this room, 
mum ; saw all the furniture for it before he went away, 
mum ; and give special directions as to where it was to be 
put." 

"Ah, well, it's all right, I daresay. Come along, my 
dear." 

But Brown's horse had scarcely been persuaded by his 
driver to comprehend that he was required to start off 
homewards with Brown's fly, when the old lady turned 
round to her daughter, and said solemnly : 

'■ You mark my words, Matilda, and after I'm dead and 
gone don't you forget 'em — your brother's going to make 
a fool of himself with this wife of his. I don't care if she 
were an angel, he'd spoil her. Boudoir, indeed ! — room 
all to herself, with such a light chintz as that, and maple 
too ; there's not one woman in ten thousand could stand it ; 
and Geoffrey's building up a pretty nest for himself, you 
mark my words." 

Two days later a letter was received from Geoffrey to say 
that they had arrived home, and that by the end of the 
week the house would be sufficiently in order, and Marga.ret 
sufficiently rested from her fatigue, to receive them, if they 
would come over to Elm Lodge to lunch. As the note was 
read aloud by Til, this last word struck upon old Mrs. 
Ludlow's ear, and roused her in an instant. 

" To what, my dear?" she asked. " I beg your pardon, 
I didn't catch the word." 

" To lunch, mamma." 

"O, indeed; then I did catch the word, and it wasn't 



136 Land at Last. 

your mumbling tone that deceived me. To lunch, eh? 
Well, upon my word ! I know I'm a stupid old woman, 
and I begin to think I live in heathenish times ; but I know 
in my day that a son would no more have thought of asking 
his mother to lunch than — well, it's good enough for us, I 
suppose." 

" Mamma, how can you say such things ! They're scarcely 
settled yet, and don't know any thing about their cook ; and 
no doubt Margaret's a little frightened at first — I'm sure 
I should be, going into such a house as that." 

"Well, my dear, different people are differently consti- 
tuted. I shouldn't feel frightened to walk into Buckingham 
Palace as mistress to-morrow. However, I daresay you're 
right ;" and then Mrs. Ludlow went into the momentous 
question of "what she was to go in." It was lucky that 
in this matter she had Til at her elbow ; for whatever 
the old lady's taste may have been in houses and furniture, 
it was very curious in dress, leaning towards wild stripes 
and checks and large green leaves, with veins like cater- 
pillars, spread over brown grounds ; towards portentous 
bonnets, bearing cockades and bows of ribbon where such 
things were never seen before ; to puce-coloured gloves, and 
parasols rescued at an alarming sacrifice from a cheap 
draper's sale. But under Til's supervision Mrs. Ludlow 
was relegated to a black-silk dress, and the bonnet which 
Geoffrey had presented to her on her birthday, and which 
Til had chosen ; and to a pair of lavender gloves which 
fitted her exactly, and had not those caverns at the tips 
of the fingers and that wrinkled bagginess in the thumbs 
which were usually to be found in the old lady's hand- 
coverings; and as she took her seat in Brown's fly, the 
neighbours on either side, with their noses firmly pressed 
against their parlour-windows, were envious of her personal 
appearance, though both of them declared afterwards that 
she wanted a " little more lighting-up." 

When the fly was nearing its destination, Mrs. Ludlow 
began to grow very nervous, a state which was exhibited 
by her continually tugging at her bonnet-strings and shaking 
out the skirt of her dress, requesting to be informed whether 
she was " quite straight," and endeavouring to catch the 
reflection of herself in the front glasses of the fly. These 
performances were scarcely over before the fly stopped 



Afco Relations. 137 

at the gate, and Mrs. Ludlow descending was received into 
her son's strong arms. The old lady's maternal feelings 
were strongly excited at that moment, for she never uttered 
a word of complaint or remonstrance, though Geoff squeezed 
up all the silk skirt which she had taken such pains to shake 
out, and hugged her until her bonnet was all displaced. 
Then, after giving Til a hearty embrace, Geoff took his 
mother's hand and led her across the little lawn to the 
French window, at which Margaret was waiting to receive her. 

Naturally enough, old Mrs. Ludlow had thought very 
much over this interview, and had pictured it to herself 
in anticipation a score of times. She had never taken 
any notice of the allusions to the likeness between her 
daughter-in-law that was to be and the Scylla-head which 
Geoff had painted; but had drawn entirely upon her own 
imagination for the sort of person who was to be presented 
to her. This ideal personage had at various times under- 
gone a good deal of change. At one time she would 
appear as a slight girl with long fair hair and blue eyes 
(•' what I call a wax-doll beauty," the old lady would think); 
then she would have large black eyes, long black hair, and 
languishing manners ; then she would be rather plain, but 
with a finely-developed figure, Mrs. Ludlow having a theory 
that most artists thought of figure more than face; but in 
any case she would be some little chit of a girl, just the 
one to catch such a man as our Geoff, who stuck to his 
paintings, and had seen so little of the world. 

So much for Mrs. Ludlow's ideal ; the realisation was this. 
On the step immediately outside the window stood Margaret, 
a slight rose-flush tinting her usually pale cheeks just under 
her eyes; her deep-violet eyes wider open than usual, but 
still soft and dreamy; her red-gold hair in bands round her 
face, but twisted up at the back into one large knot at the 
top of her head. She was dressed in a bright-blue cambric 
dress, which fell naturally and gracefully round her, neither 
bulging out with excess of crinoline, nor sticking limply to 
her like a bathing-gown; across her shoulders was a large 
white muslin-cape, such as that which Marie Antoinette is 
lq -resented as wearing in Delaroche's splendid picture; 
muslin-cuffs and a muslin-apron. A gleam of sun shone 
upon her, bathing her in light ; and as the old lady stood 
staring at her in amazement, a recollection came across her 



138 Land at Last. 

of something which she had not seen for more than forty 
years, nor ever thought of since, — a reminiscence of a 
stained-glass figure of the Virgin in some old Belgian cathe- 
dral, pointed out to her by her husband in her honeymoon. 

As this idea passed through her mind, the tears rose into 
Mrs. Ludlow's eyes. She was an excitable old lady and 
easily touched ; and simultaneously with the painted figure 
she thought of the husband pointing it out, — the young 
husband then so brave and handsome, now for so many 
years at rest, — and she only dimly saw Margaret coming 
forward to meet her. But remembering that tears would be 
a bad omen for such an introduction, she brushed them 
hastily away, and looked up in undisguised admiration at 
the handsome creature moving gracefully towards her. 
Geoffrey, in a whirl of stuttering doubt, said, " My mother, 
Margaret; mother, this is — Margaret — my wife;" and each 
woman moved forward a little, and neither knew what to 
do. Should they shake hands or kiss? and from whom 
should the suggestion come ? It came eventually from the 
old lady, who said simply, " I'm glad to see you, my dear ;" 
and putting one hand on Margaret's shoulder, kissed her 
affectionately. There was no need o£ introduction between 
the others. Til's bright eyes were sparkling with admiration 
and delight ; and Margaret, seeing the expression in them, 
reciprocated it at once, saying, "And this is Til !" and then 
they embraced, as warmly as girls under such circumstances 
always do. Then they went into the house, Mrs. Ludlow 
leaning on her son's arm, and Til and Margaret following. 

"Now, mother," said Geoff, as they passed through the 
little hall, " Margaret will take you upstairs. You'll find 
things much more settled than when you were here last." 
And upstairs the women went accordingly. 

When they were in the bedroom, Mrs. Ludlow seated 
herself comfortably in a chair, with her back to the light, 
and said to Margaret : 

" Now, my dear, come here and let me have a quiet look 
at you. I've thought of you a thousand times, and wondered 
what you were like ; but I never thought of any thing like 
this." 

" You — you are not disappointed, I hope," said Margaret. 
She knew it was a dull remark, and she made it in a 
constrained manner, But what else was she to say? 



New Relations. 139 

" Disappointed ! no, indeed, my dear. But I won't flatter 
you; you'll have quite enough of that from Geoffrey. I 
shall always think of you in future as a saint ; you're so like 
the pictures of the saints in the churches abroad." 

•• You see you flatter me at once." 

'• No, my dear, I don't. For you are like them, I'm sure; 
not that you're to wear horsehair next your skin, or be 
chopped up into little pieces, or made to walk on hot iron, 
or any thing of that sort, you know ; but I can see by your 
face that you're a good girl, and will make my Geoff a good 
wife." 

'•I will try to do so, Mrs. Ludlow," said Margaret, 
earnestly. 

"And you'll succeed, my dear. I knew I could always 
trust Geoff for that ; he might marry a silly girl, one that 
hadn't any proper notions of keeping house or managing 
those nuisances of servants ; but I knew he would choose a 
good one. And don't call me ' Mrs. Ludlow,' please, my 
dear. I'm your mother now ; and with such a daughter-in- 
law I'm proud of the title !" This little speech was sealed 
with a kiss, which drove away the cloud that was gathering 
on Margaret's brow, and they all went down to lunch 
together. The meal passed off without any particular 
incident to be recorded. Margaret was self-possessed, and 
did the honours of her table gracefully, paying particular 
attention to her guests, and generally conducting herself 
infinitely better than Geoff, who was in a flurry of nervous 
excitement, and was called to order by his mother several 
times for jumping up to fetch things when he ought to have 
rung the bell. " A habit that I trust you'll soon break him 
of, Margaret, my dear ; for nothing goes to spoil a servant 
so quickly; and calling over the bannisters for what he 
wants is another trick, as though servants' legs weren't given 
them to answer bells." But Mrs. Ludlow did not talk 
much, being engaged, during the intervals of eating, in 
mentally appraising the articles on the table, in quietly 
trying the weight of the spoons, and in administering 
interrogative taps to the cow on the top of the butter-dish 
to find if she were silver or plated, in private speculations as 
to which quality of Romford ale Geoffrey had ordered and 
what he paid for it, and various other little domestic details 
whereto her experience as a household manager prompted 



14° Land at Last. 

her. Geoffrey too was silent ; but the conversation, though 
not loud, was very brisk between Margaret and Til, who 
seemed, to Geoff's intense delight, to have taken a great 
fancy for each other. 

It was not until late in the afternoon, when the hour 
at which Brown's fly had been ordered was rapidly ap- 
proaching, and they were all seated in the veranda enjoying 
the distant view, the calm stillness, and the fresh air, that 
the old lady, who had been looking with a full heart at 
Geoffrey — who, seated close behind Margaret, was playing 
with the ends of her hair as she still kept up her conversation 
with Til — said : 

"Well, Geoffrey, I don't think I ought to leave you to- 
night without saying how much I am pleased with my new 
daughter. O, I don't mind her hearing me ; she's too good 
a girl to be upset by a little truthful praise — ain't you, my 
dear ? Come and sit by me for a minute and give me your 
hand, Margaret ; and you, Geoff, on the other side. God 
bless you both, my children, and make you happy in one 
another ! You're strange to one another, and you'll have 
some little worries at first ; but you'll soon settle down into 
happiness. And that's the blessing of your both being 
young and fresh. I'm very glad you didn't marry poor 
Joe Telford's widow, Geoff, as we thought you would, ten 
years ago. I don't think, if I had been a man, I should 
have liked marrying a widow. Of course every one has 
their little love-affairs before they marry, but that's nothing ; 
but with a widow it's different, you know; and she'd be 
always comparing you with the other one, and perhaps the 
comparison might not be flattering. No ; it's much better 
to begin life both together, with no past memories to — why, 
Geoffrey, how your hand shakes, my dear ! What's the 
matter ? it can't be the cold, for Margaret is as steady as 
a rock." 

Geoffrey muttered something about "a sudden shiver," 
and just at that moment the fly appeared at the gate. So 
they parted with renewed embraces and promises of meeting 
again veiy shortly; Geoffrey was to bring Margaret over 
to Brompton, and the next time they came to Elm Lodge 
they must spend a long day, and perhaps sleep there ; and 
it was not until Brown's fly turned the corner which shut 
the house out of sight that Mrs. Ludlow ceased stretching 



Neiv Relations. 141 

her head out of the window and nodding violently. Then 
she burst out at once with her long-pent-up questioning. 

" Well, Matilda, and what do you think of your new 
relation ? I'm sure you've been as quiet as quiet ; there's 
been no getting a word out of you. But I suppose you 
don't mind telling your mother. What do you think of 
her?" 

" She is very handsome, mamma, and seems very kind, 
and very fond of Geoff." 

" Handsome, my dear ! She's really splendid ! There's 
a kind of je nc sais quoi about her that — and tall too, like a 
duchess ! Well, I don't think the Wilkinsons in the Crescent 
will crow any longer. Why, that girl that Alfred Wilkinson 
married the other day, and that they all went on so about, 
isn't a patch upon Margaret. Did you notice her cape and 
cuffs, Matilda ? Rather Frenchified, I thought ; rather like 
that nurse that the Dixons brought from Boulogne last year, 
but very pretty. I hope she'll wear them when she comes 
to spend the day with us, and that some of those odious 
people in the Crescent will come to call. Their cook 
seems to have a light hand at pie-crust ; and did you taste 
the jelly, my dear? I wonder if it was made at home; 
if so, the cook's a treasure, and dirt-cheap at seventeen and 
every thing found except beer, which Margaret tells me 
is all she gives ! I see they didn't like my arrangement 
of the furniture ; they've pulled the grand-piano away from 
the wall, and put the ottoman in its place : nice for the 
people who sit on it to rub the new paper with their greasy 
heads !" 

And so the old lady chattered on until she felt sleepy, 
and stumbled out at her own door in an exhausted state, 
from which the delicious refreshment of a little cold brandy- 
and-water and a particularly hard and raspy biscuit did not 
rouse her. But just as Til was stepping into bed her mother 
came into the room, perfectly bright and preternaturally 
sharp, to say, " Do you know, my dear, I think, after all, 
Geoffrey was very fond of Joe Telford's widow ? You were 
too young then to recollect her ; for when I was speaking 
about her to-night, and saying how much better it was that 
both husband and wife should come fresh to each other, 
Geoft's hand shook like an aspen-leaf, and his face was as 
pale as death." 



E4 2 Land at Last. 



CHAPTER II. 

MARGARET. 

MARGARET had carried out what she knew would bfc 
the first part of the new programme of her life. 
During their short honeymoon, Geoffrey had talked so much 
of his mother and sister, and of his anxiety that they should 
be favourably impressed with her, that she had determined 
to put forth all the strength and tact she had to make that 
first meeting an agreeable one to them. That she had 
done so, that she had succeeded in her self-imposed task, 
was evident. Mrs. Ludlow, in her parting words, had 
expressed herself delighted with her new daughter-in-law; 
but by her manner, much more than by any thing she had 
said, Geoff knew that his mother's strong sympathies had 
been enlisted, if her heart had not 'been entirely won. For 
though the old lady so far gave in to the prejudices of the 
world as to observe a decent reticence towards objects of 
her displeasure — though she never compromised herself by 
outraging social decency in verbal attacks or disparaging 
remarks— a long experience had given her son a thorough 
appreciation of, and power of translating, certain bits of 
facial pantomime of a depreciatory nature, which never 
varied ; notably among them, the uplifted eyebrow of asto- 
nishment, the prolonged stare of " wonder at her insolence," 
the shoulder-shrug of " I don't understand such things," 
and the sniff of unmitigated disgust. All these Geoff had 
seen brought to bear on various subjects quite often enough 
to rate them at their exact value ; and it was, therefore, 
with genuine pleasure that he found them conspicuous by 
their absence on the occasion of his mother's first visit to 
Elm Lodge. 

For although Geoff was not particularly apt as a student 
of human nature, — his want of self-confidence, and the quiet 
life he had pursued, being great obstacles to any such study, 
— he must, nevertheless, have had something of the faculty 
originally implanted in him, inasmuch as he had contrived 
completely, and almost without knowing it himself, to make 
himself master of the key to the characters of the two 
people with whom his life had been Dassed. It was this 



Margaret. 1 43 

knowledge of his mother that made him originally propose 
that the first meeting between her and Margaret should take 
place at Brompton, where he could take his wife over as 
a visitor. He thought that very likely any little latent 
jealousy which the old lady might feel by reason of her 
deposition, not merely from the foremost place in her son's 
affections, but from the head of his table and the rulership 
of his house,— and it is undeniable that with the very best 
women these latter items jar quite as unpleasantly as the 
former, — whatever little jealousy Mrs. Ludlow may have 
felt on these accounts would be heightened by the sight 
of the new house and furniture in which it had pleased 
Geoff to have his new divinity enshrined. There is a point 
at which the female nature rebels ; and though Geoff neither 
knew, nor professed to know, much about female nature, 
he was perfectly certain that as a young woman is naturally 
more likely to " take up with " another who is her inferior 
in personal attractions, so Mrs. Ludlow would undoubtedly 
be more likely to look favourably on a daughter-in-law 
whose status, artificially or otherwise, should not appear 
greater than her own. It was Margaret who dissuaded Geoff 
from his original intention, pitting against her husband's 
special acquaintance with his mother's foibles her ordinary 
woman's cleverness, which told her that, properly managed, 
the new house and furniture, and all their little luxury, 
could be utilised for, instead of against, them with the old 
lady, making her part and parcel of themselves, and speaking 
of all the surroundings as component parts of a common 
stock, in which with them she had a common interest. 
This scheme, talked over in a long desultory lovers' ramble 
over the green cliffs at Niton in the ever-lovely Isle of 
Wight, resulted in the letter requesting Mrs. Ludlow to 
superintend the furniture-people, of which mention has 
already been made, and in the meeting taking place at Elm 
Lodge, as just described. 

This first successful stroke, which Geoff perhaps unduly 
appreciated (but any thing in which his mother was involved 
had great weight with him), originated by Margaret and 
carried out by her aid, had great effect on Geoffrey Ludlow, 
and brought the woman whom he had married before him 
in quite a new light. The phrase " the woman he had 
married " is purposely chosen, because the fact of having 



144 Land at Last. 

a wife, in its largest and most legitimate sense, had not 
yet dawned upon him. We read in works of fiction of 
how men weigh and balance before committing matrimony, 
■ — carefully calculate this recommendation, calmly dissect 
that defect ; we have essay-writers, political economists, and 
others, who are good enough to explain these calculations, 
and to show us why it ought to be, and how it is to be 
done ; but, spite of certain of my brother-fictionists and 
these last-named social teachers, I maintain that, in ninety- 
nine cases out of a hundred, a man who is a man, " with 
blood, bones, passion, marrow, feeling," as Byron says, 
marries a girl because he is smitten with the charms either 
of her person or her manner — because there is something 
simfiatico, as the Italians call it, between them — because 
he is "in love with her," as the good old English phrase 
runs ; but without having paid any thing but the most 
cursory attention to her disposition and idiosyncrasy. Is it 
so, or is it not ? Such a state of things leads, I am perfectly 
aware, to the acceptance of stone for bread and scorpions 
for fish ; but it exists, hath existed, and will continue to 
exist. Brown now helplessly acknowledges Mrs. B.'s "devil 
of a temper;" but even if he had had proof positive of it, he 
would have laughed it away merrily enough that summer 
at Margate, when Mrs. B. was Emily Clark, and he was 
under the thrall of her black eyes. Jones suffers under 
his wife's " low fits," and Robinson under Mrs. Robinson's 
religion, which she takes very hot and strong, with a great 
deal of groaning and anathematising; but though these 
peculiarities of both ladies might have been learned " on 
application " to any of the various swains who had been 
rejected by them, no inquiry was ever made by the more 
fortunate men who took them honestly on trust, and on 
account of their visible personal attractions. And though 
these instances seem drawn from a lower class of life, I 
contend that the axiom holds good in all states of society, 
save, of course, in the case of purely mercenary marriages, 
which, however, are by no means so common in occurrence, 
or at all events so fatal in their results, as many of our 
novel-writers wish us to believe. 

It was undoubtedly the case with Geoffrey Ludlow. He 
was a man as free from gross passions, as unlikely to take a 
sudden caprice, or to give the reins to his will, as any of his 



Margaret. 145 

kind. His intimates would as soon have thought of the 
bronze statue of Achilles "committing" itself as Geoft 
Ludlow ; and yet it was for the dead-gold hair, the deep- 
violet eyes, and the pallid face, that he had married Margaret 
Dacre ; and on her mental attributes he had not bestowed 
one single thought. He had not had much time, certainly ; 
but however long his courtship might have been, I doubt 
whether he would have penetrated very far into the mysteries 
of her idiosyncrasy. He had a certain theory that she was 
"artistic;" a word which, with him, took the place of 
'•romantic" with other people, as opposed to "practical." 
Geoff hated "practical" people; perhaps because he had 
suffered from an over-dose of practicality in his own home. 
H e would far sooner that his wife should not have been able 
to make pies and puddings, and cut-out baby-linen, than 
that she should have excelled in those notable domestic 
virtues. But none of these things had entered his head 
when he asked Margaret Dacre to join her lot with his, — 
save, perhaps, an undefined notion that no woman with 
such hair and such eyes could be so constituted. You 
would have looked in vain in Guinevere for the characteristics 
of Mrs. Rundell, or Miss Acton. 

He had thought of her as his peerless beauty, as his 
realisation of a thousand waking dreams ; and that for the 
time was enough. But when he found her entering into 
and giving shape and colour to his schemes, he regarded 
her with worship increased a hundredfold. Constitutionally 
inert and adverse to thinking and deciding for himself, — 
with a wholesome doubt, moreover, of the efficacy of his 
own powers of judgment, — it was only the wide diversity of 
opinion which on nearly every subject existed between his 
mother and himself that had prevented him from long ago 
giving himself up entirely to the old lady's direction. But 
he now saw, readily enough, that he had found one whose 
guiding hand he could accept, who satisfied both his inclin- 
ations and his judgment ; and he surrendered himself with 
more than resignation — with delight, to Margaret's control. 

And she ? It is paying her no great compliment to say 
that she was equal to the task ; it is making no strong 
accusation against her to say that she had expected and 
accepted the position from the first. I am at a loss how 

L 



146 Land at Last. 

exactly to set forth this woman's character as I feel it, 
fearful of enlarging on defects without showing something in 
their palliation — more fearful of omitting some mental in- 
gredient which might serve to explain the twofold workings 
of her mind. When she left her home it was under the 
influence of love and pride ; wild girlish adoration of the 
" swell :" the man with the thick moustache, the white hands, 
the soft voice, the well-made boots ; the man so different in 
every respect from any thing she had previously known ; 
and girlish pride in enslaving one in social rank far beyond 
the railway-clerks, merchants' book-keepers, and Custom- 
House agents, who were marked down as game by her 
friends and compeers. The step once taken, she was a girl 
no more ; her own natural hardihood came to her aid, and 
enabled her to hold her own wherever she went. The man 
her companion, — a man of society simply from mixing with 
society, but naturally sheepish and stupid, — was amazed at 
her wondrous calmness and self-possession under all sorts of 
circumstances. It was an odd sort of camaraderie in which 
they mixed, both at home and abroad; one where the 
laissez-aller spirit was always predominant, and where those 
who said and did as they liked were generally most appre- 
ciated ; but there was a something in Margaret Dacre which 
compelled a kind of respect even from the wildest. Where 
she was, the drink never degenerated into an orgie ; and 
though the cancans and doubles entendres might ring round 
the room, all outward signs of decency were preserved. In 
the wild crew with which she was mixed she stood apart, 
sometimes riding the whirlwind with them, but always di- 
recting the storm ; and while invariably showing herself the 
superior, so tempering her superiority as to gain the obe- 
dience and respect, if not the regard, of all those among 
whom she was thrown. How did this come about ? Hear 
it in one sentence — that she was as cold as ice, and as 
heartless as a stone. She loved the man who had betrayed 
her with all the passion which had been vouchsafed to her. 
She loved him, as I have said, at first, from his difference to 
all her hitherto surroundings ; then she loved him for having 
made her love him and yield to him. She had not sufficient 
mental power to analyse her own feelings ; but she recognised 
that she had not much heart, was not easily moved ; and 



Maiva/rt. 



147 



therefore she gave extraordinary credit, which he did not de- 
serve, to him who had had the power to turn her as he listed. 

But still, on him, her whole powers of loving stopped — 
spent, used-up. Her devotion to him — inexplicable to 
herself — was spaniel-like in its nature. She took his re- 
proaches, his threats, at the last his desertion, and loved him 
still. During the time they were together she had tempta- 
tion on every side ; but not- merely did she continue faithful, 
but her fidelity was never shaken even in thought. Although 
in that shady demi-monde there is a queer kind of honour- 
code extant among the Lovelaces and the Juans, far stricter 
than they think themselves called upon to exercise when out 
of their own territory, there are of course exceptions, who 
hold the temptation of their friend's mistress but little less 
piquante, than the seduction of their friend's wife ; but none 
of these had the smallest chance with Margaret. What in 
such circles is systematically known by the name of a caprice 
never entered her mind. Even at the last, when she found 
herself deserted, penniless, she knew that a word would 
restore her to a position equivalent, apparently, to that she 
had occupied ; but she would not have spoken that word 
to have saved her from the death which she was so nearly 
meeting. 

In those very jaws of death, from which she had just been 
rescued, a new feeling dawned upon her. As she lay back 
in the arm-chair in Flexor's parlour, dimly sounding in her 
ears, at first Hke the monotonous surging of the waves, after- 
wards shaping itself into words, but always calm and grave 
and kind, came Geoff's voice. She could scarcely make out 
what was said, but she knew what was meant from the mo- 
dulation and the tone. Then, when Mr. Potts had gone to 
fetch Dr. Rollit, she knew that she was left alone with the 
owner of the voice, and she brought all her strength together 
to raise her eyelids and look at him. She saw the quiet 
earnest face, she marked the intense gaze, and she let her 
light fingers fall on the outstretched hand, and muttered her 
"Bless you ! — saved me !" with a gratitude which was not 
merely an expression of grateful feeling for his rescuing her 
from death, but partook more of the cynic's definition of the 
word — a recognition of benefits to come. 

It sprung up in her mind like a ilame. It did more 
towards effecting her cure, even in the outset, than all the 



I4& Land at Last. 

stimulants and nourishment which Dr. Rollit administered. 
It was with her while consciousness remained, and flashed 
across her the instant consciousness returned. A home, the 
chances of a home — nothing but that — somewhere, with 
walls, and a fire, and a roof to keep off the pelting of the 
bitter rain. Walls with pictures and a floor with carpets ; 
not a workhouse, not such places as she had spent the night 
in on her weary desolate tramp ; but such as she had been 
accustomed to. And some one to care for her — no low 
whisperings, and pressed hands, and averted glances, and 
flight ; but a shoulder to rest her head against, a strong arm 
round her to save her from — O God ! — those awful black 
pitiless streets. Rest, only rest, — that was her craving. 
Let her once more be restored to ordinary strength, and 
then let her rest until she died. Ah, had she not had more 
than the ordinary share of trouble and disquietude, and 
could not a haven be found for her at last ? She recollected 
how, in the first flush of her wildness, she had pitied all her 
old companions soberly settling down in life ; and now how 
gladly would she change lots with them ! Was it come ? 
was the chance at hand? Had she drifted through the 
storm long enough, and was the sun now breaking through 
the clouds ? She thought so, even as she lay nearer death 
than life, and through the shimmering of her eyelids caught 
a fleeting glimpse of Geoff Ludlow's face, and heard his 
voice as in a dream ; she knew so after the second time of 
his calling on her in her convalescence ; knew she might tell 
him the story of her life, which would only bind a man of 
his disposition more strongly to her; knew that such a 
feeling engendered in such a man at his time of life was 
deep and true and lasting, and that once taken to his heart, 
her position was secure for ever. 

And what was her feeling for him who thus rose up out of 
the darkness, and was to give her all for which her soul had 
been pining ? Love ? Not one particle. She had no love 
left. She had not been by any means bounteously provided 
with that article at the outset, and all that she had she had 
expended on one person. Of love, of what we know by 
love, of love as he himself understood it, she had not one 
particle for Geoffrey. But there was a feeling which she 
could hardly explain to herself. It would have been respect, 
respect for his noble heart, his thorough uprightness, and 



Margaret. 149 

strict sense of honour; but this respect was diluted by an 
appreciation of his dubiety, his vacillation, his utter im- 
potency of saying a harsh word or doing a harsh thing ; and 
diluted in a way which invested the cold feeling of respect 
with a warmer hue, and rendered him, if less perfect, cer- 
tainly more interesting in her eyes. Never, even for an 
instant, had she thought of him with love-passion ; not when 
she gazed dreamily at him out of the voluptuous depths of 
her deep-violet eyes ; not when, on that night when all had 
been arranged between them, she had lain on his breast in 
the steel-blue rays of the spring moon. She had — well, 
feigned it, if you like, — though she would scarcely avow that, 
deeming rather that she had accepted the devotion which he 
had offered her without repelling it. II y a toujours l'un qui 
baise, F autre qui tend la joue. That axiom, unromantic, but 
true in most cases, was strictly fulfilled in the present instance. 
Margaret proffered no love, but accepted, if not willingly, at 
least with a thorough show of graciousness, all that was 
proffered to her. And in the heartfelt worship of Geoffrey 
Ludlow there was something inexplicably attractive to her. 
Attractive, probably, because of its entire novelty and utter 
unselfishness. She could compare it with nothing she had 
ever seen or known. To her first lover there had been the 
attraction of enchaining the first love of a very young girl, 
the romance of stolen meetings and secret interviews, the 
enchantment of an elopement, which was looked upon as a 
great sin by those whom he scorned, and a great triumph by 
those whose applause he envied ; the gratification of creating 
the jealousy of" his compeers, and of being talked about as 
an example to be shunned by those whom he despised. 
He had the satisfaction of flaunting her beauty through the 
world, and of" gaining that world's applause for his success 
in having made it succumb to him. But how was it with 
Geoffrey ? The very opposite, in every way. At the very 
best her early history must be shrouded in doubt and ob- 
scurity. If known it might act prejudicially against her 
husband with his patrons, and those on whom he was de- 
pendent for his livelihood. Even her beauty could not 
afford him much source of gratification, save to himself; he 
could seldom or never enjoy that reflected pleasure which a 
sensible man feels at the world's admiration of his wife ; for 



iS° Zand at Last. 

had he not himself told her that their life would be of the 
quietest, and that they would mix with very few people ? 

No ! if ever earnest, true, and unselfish love existed in the 
world, it was now, she felt, bestowed upon her. What in 
the depths of her despair she had faintly hoped for, had 
come to her with treble measure. Her course lay plain and 
straight before her. It was not a very brilliant course, but 
it was quiet and peaceful and safe. So away all thoughts of 
the past ! drop the curtain on the feverish excitement, the 
wild dream of hectic pleasure ! Shut it out ; and with it the 
dead dull heartache, the keen sense of wrong, the desperate 
struggle for bare life. 

So Margaret dropped that curtain on her wedding-day, 
with the full intention of never raising it again. 



CHAPTER III. 

ANNIE. 

LORD CATERHAM'S suggestion that Annie Maurice 
should cultivate her drawing-talent was made after 
due reflection. He saw, with his usual quickness of per- 
ception, that the girl's life was fretting away within her ; that 
the conventional round of duties which fell to her lot as his 
mother's companion was discharged honestly enough, but 
without interest or concern. He never knew why Lady 
Beauport wanted a companion. So long as he had powers 
of judging character, he had never known her have an 
intimate friend ; and when, at the death of the old clergyman 
with whom Annie had so long been domesticated, it was 
proposed to receive her into the mansion at St. Barnabas 
Square, Lord Caterham had been struck with astonishment, 
and could not possibly imagine what duties she would be 
called upon to fulfil. He heard that the lady henceforth to 
form a part of their establishment was young, and that mere 
fact was in itself a cause for wonder. There was no youth 
there, and it was a quality which was generally openly 
tabooed. Lady Beauport's woman was about fifty, a thorough 
mistress of her art, an artist in complexion before whom 
Madame Rachel might have bowed ; a cunning and skilled 
labourer in all matters appertaining to the hair; a person 



Annie. 151 

whose anatomical knowledge exceeded that of many medical 
students, and who produced effects undreamt of by the 
most daring sculptors. There were no nephews or nieces to 
come on visits, to break up the usual solemnity reigning 
throughout the house, with young voices and such laughter 
as is only heard in youth, to tempt the old people into 
a temporary forgetfulness of self, and into a remembrance 
of days when they had hopes and fears and human in- 
terest in matters passing around them. There were sons 
— yes ! Caterham himself, who had never had one youth- 
ful thought or one youthful aspiration, whose playmate 
had been the physician, whose toys the wheel-chair in which 
he sat and the irons by which his wrecked frame was sup- 
ported, who had been precocious at six and a man at twelve ; 
and Lionel — but though of the family, Lionel was not of the 
house ; he never used to enter it when he could make any 
possible excuse ; and long before his final disappearance his 
visits had been restricted to those occasions when he thought 
his father could be bled or his mother cajoled. What was a 
girl of two-and-twenty to do in such a household, Caterham 
asked; but got no answer. It had been Lady Beauport's 
plan, who knew that Lord Beauport had been in the habit of 
contributing a yearly something towards Miss Maurice's 
support ; and she thought that it would be at I last no extra 
expense to have the young woman in the houiie, where she 
might make herself useful with her needle, and could 
generally sit with Mrs. Parkins the housekeeper. 

But Lord Beauport would not have this. Treated as a 
lady, as a member of his own family in his house, or properly 
provided for out of it, should Annie Maurice be : my lady's 
companion, but my cousin always. No companionship with 
Mrs. Parkins, no set task or suggested assistance. Her 
own room, her invariable presence when the rest of the 
family meet together, if you please. Lady Beauport did 
not please at first ; but Lord Beauport was firm, firm as 
George Brakespere used to be in the old days ; and Lady 
Beauport succumbed with a good grace, and was glad of it 
ever after. For Annie Maurice not merely had the sweetest 
temper and the most winning ways, — not merely read in the 
softest voice, and had the taste to choose the most charming 
"bits," over which Lady Beauport would hum first with 
approval and then with sleep,— not merely played and sung 



1 5 2 Land at Last. 

delightfully, without ever being hoarse or disinclined,— not 
merely could ride with her back to the horses, and dress for 
the Park exactly as Lady Beauport wished — neither dowdy 
nor swell, — but she brought old-fashioned receipts for quaint 
country dishes with which she won Mrs. Parkins's heart, and 
she taught Hodgson, Lady Beauport's maid, a new way of 
gaitffreing which broke down all that Abigail's icy spleen. 
Her bright eyes, her white teeth, her sunny smile, did all 
the rest for her throughout the household : the big footmen 
moved more quickly for her than for their mistress ; the 
coachman, with whom she must have interchanged con- 
fidential communications, told the groom she " knowed the 
p'ints of an 'oss as well as he did — spotted them wind-galls 
in Jack's off 'ind leg, and says, ' a cold-water bandage for 
them,' she says ; " the women-.servants, more likely than any 
of the others to take offence, were won by the silence of her 
bell and her independence of toilette assistance. 

Lord Caterham saw all this, and understood her popularity; 
but he saw too that with it all Annie Maurice was any thing 
but happy. Reiteration of conventionality, — the reception 
of the callers and the paying of the calls, the morning concerts 
and afternoon botanical promenades, the occasional Opera- 
goings, and the set dinner-parties at home, — these weighed 
heavily on her. She felt that her life was artificial, that she 
had nothing in common with the people with whom it was 
passed, save when she escaped to Lord Caterham's room. 
He was at least natural ; she need talk or act no convention- 
ality with him ; might read, or work, or chat with him as 
she liked. But she wanted some purpose in life — that 
Caterham saw, and saw almost with horror ; for that purpose 
might tend to take her away ; and if she left him, he felt 
as though the only bright portion of his life would leave 
him too. 

Yes ; he had begun to acknowledge this to himself. He 
had fought against the idea, tried to laugh it off, but it had 
always recurred to him. For the first time in his life, he had 
moments of happy expectancy of an interview that was to 
come, hours of happy reflection over an interview that was 
past. Of course the Carry-Chesterton times came up in his 
mindj but these were very different. Then he was in a 
wild state of excitement and tremor, of flushed cheeks and 
beating heart and trembling lips ; he thrilled at the sound of 



Annie. 153 

her voice ; his blood, usually so calm, coursed through his 
veins at the touch of her hand ; his passion was a delirium 
as alarming as it was intoxicating. The love of to-day had 
nothing in common with that bygone time. There was no 
similarity between Carry Chesterton's dash and aplomb and 
Annie Maurice's quiet domestic ways. The one scorched 
him with a glance ; the other soothed him with a word. 
How sweet it was to lie back in his chair with half-shut eyes, 
as in a dream, and watch her moving quietly about, setting 
every thing in order, putting fresh flowers in his vases, dust- 
ing his writing-table, laughingly upbraiding the absent Algy 
Barford, and taxing him with the delinquency of a half- 
smoked cigar on the mantel-piece, and a pile of cigar-ash on 
the carpet. Then he would bid her finish her house-work, 
and she would wheel his chair to the table and read the 
newspapers to him, and listen to his quaint, shrewd, generally 
sarcastic comments on all she read. And he would sit, 
listening to the music of her voice, looking at the quiet 
charms of her simply-banded glossy dark-brown hair, at the 
play of feature illustrating every thing she read. It was a 
brother's love he told himself at first, and fully believed it ; a 
brother's love for a favourite sister. He thought so until he 
pictured to himself her departure to some friend's or other, 
until he imagined the house without her, himself without her, 
and — and she with some one else. And then Lord Cater- 
ham confessed to himself that he loved Annie Maurice with 
all his soul, and simultaneously swore that by no act or word 
of his should she or any one else ever know it. 

The Carry-Chesterton love-fever had been so sharp in its 
symptoms, and so prostrating in its results, that this second 
attack fell with comparative mildness on the sufferer. He 
had no night-watches now, no long feverish tossings to and 
fro waiting for the daylight, no wild remembrance of parting 
words and farewell hand-clasps. She was there ; her " good- 
night " had rung out sweetly and steadily without a break in 
the situation ; her sweet smile had lit up her face ; her last 
words had been of some projected reading or work for the 
morrow. It was all friend and friend or brother and sistei 
to every one but him. The very first night after Miss 
Chesterton had been presented to Lady licauport, the latter, 
seeing with a woman's quickness the position of affairs, had 
spoken of the young lady from Homersham as " that dreadful 



iS4 Land at Last, 

person," "that terribly-forward young woman," and thereby 
goaded Lord Caterham into worse love-madness. Now 
both father and mother were perpetually congratulating them- 
selves and him on having found some one who seemed to be 
able to enter into and appreciate their eldest son's " odd 
ways." This immunity from parental worry and supervision 
was pleasant, doubtless ; but did it not prove that to eyes 
that were not blinded by love-passion there was nothing in 
Miss Maurice's regard for her cousin more than was com- 
patible with cousinly affection, and with pity for one so cir- 
cumstanced ? So Lord Caterham had it ; and who shall 
say that his extreme sensitiveness had deceived him ? 

It was the height of the London season, and Lady Beau- 
port was fairly in the whirl. So was Annie Maurice, whose 
position was already as clearly defined amongst the set as if 
she had been duly ticketed with birth, parentage, education, 
and present employment. Hitherto her experience had 
decidedly been pleasant, and she had found that all the 
companion-life, as set forth in fashionable novels, had been 
ridiculously exaggerated. From no one had she received 
any thing approaching a slight, any thing approaching an 
insult. The great ladies mostly ignored her, though some 
made a point of special politeness ; the men received her as 
a gentlewoman, with whom flirtation might be possible on 
an emergency, though unremunerative as a rule. Her per- 
petual attendance on Lady Beauport had prevented her 
seeing as much as usual of Lord Caterham ; and it was with 
a sense of relief that she found a morning at her disposal, 
and sent Stephens to intimate her coming to his master. 

She found him as usual, sitting listlessly in his wheel-chair, 
the newspaper folded ready to his hand, but unfolded and 
unread. He looked up, and smiled as she entered the room, 
and said : "At last, Annie, at last ! Ah, I knew such a nice 
little girl who came here from Ricksborough, and lightened 
my solitary hours ; but we've had a fashionable lady here 
lately, who is always at concerts or operas, or eating ices at 
Gunter's, or crushing into horticultural marquees, or — " 

"Arthur, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! You 
know, however, I won't stoop to argue with you, sir. I'll 
only say that the little girl from Ricksborough has come back 
again, and that the fashionable lady has got a holiday and 
gone awav." 



Annie. 155 

" That's good ; but I say, just stand in the light, Annie." 

"Well, what's the matter now?" 

" What has the little girl from Ricksborough done with all 
her colour ? Where's the brightness of her eyes ?" 

'' Ah, you don't expect every thing at once, do you, sir ? 
Her natural colour has gone; but she has ordered a box 
from Bond Street ; and as for the brightness of her eyes — " 

" O, there's enough left ; there is indeed, especially when 
she fires up in that way. But you're not looking well, 
Annie. I'm afraid my lady's doing too much with you." 

"She's very kind, and wishes me to be always with her." 

" Yes ; but she forgets that the vicarage of Ricksborough 
was scarcely good training-ground for the races in which she 
has entered you, however kindly you take to the running." 
He paused a minute as he caught Annie's upturned gaze, 
and said : " I don't mean that, dear Annie. I know well 
enough you hate it all ; and I was only trying to put the 
best face on the matter. What else can I do ?" 

" I know that, Arthur; nor is it Lady Beauport's fault that 
she does not exactly comprehend how a series of gaieties 
can be any thing but agreeable to a country-bred young 
woman. There are hundreds of girls who would give any 
thing to be ' brought out ' under such chaperonage and in 
such a manner." 

"You are very sweet and good to say so, Annie, and to 
look at it in that light, but I would give any thing to get you 
more time to yourself." 

"That proves more plainly than anything, Arthur, that 
you don't consider me one of the aristocracy; for their 
greatest object in life appears to me to prevent their having 
any time to themselves." 

" Miss Maurice," said Lord Caterham with an assumption 
of gravity, " these sentiments are really horrible. I thought 
I missed my Mill on Liberty from the bookshelves. I am 
afraid, madame, you have been studying the doctrines of a 
man who has had the frightful audacity to think for himself." 

" No, indeed, Arthur ; nothing of the sort. I did take 
down the book — though of course you had never missed it ; 
but it seemed a dreary old thing, and so I put it back again. 
No, I haven't a radical thought or feeling in me — except 
sometimes." 

" And when is the malignant influence at work, pray ?" 



156 Land at Last. 

" When I see those footmen dressed up in that ridiculous 
costume, with powder in their heads, I confess then to being 
struck with wonder at a society which permits such mon- 
strosity, and degrades its fellow-creatures to such a level." 

" O, for a stump !" cried Caterham, shaking in his chair 
and with the tears running down his cheeks ; " this display 
of virtuous indignation is quite a new and hitherto undis- 
covered feature in the little girl from Ricksborough ; though 
of course you are quite wrong in your logic. Your fault 
should be found with the creatures who permit themselves to 
be so reduced. That 'dreary old thing,' Mr. Mill, would 
tell you that if the supply ceased, the demand would cease 
likewise. But don't let us talk about politics, for heaven's 
sake, even in fun. Let us revert to our original topic." 

"What was that?" 

" What was that ! Why you, of course ! Don't you 
recollect that we decided that you should have some draw- 
ing-lessons ?" 

" I recollect you were good enough to — " 

" Annie ! Annie ! I thought it was fully understood that 
my goodness was a tabooed subject. No; you remember 
we arranged, on the private-view day of the Exhibition, with 
that man who had those two capital pictures — what's his 
name ? — Ludlow, to give you some lessons." 

" Yes ; but Mr. Ludlow himself told us that he could not 
come for some little time ; he was going out of town." 

" I've had a letter from him this morning, explaining the 
continuance of his absence. What do you think is the 
reason ?" 

"He was knocked up, and wanted rest?" 

" N-no ; apparently not." 

" He's not ill ? O, Arthur, he's not ill ?" 

" Not in the least, Annie, — there's not the least occasion 
for you to manifest any uneasiness." Lord Caterham's 
voice was becoming very hard and his face very rigid. " Mr. 
Ludlow's return to town was delayed in order that he might 
enjoy the pleasures of his honeymoon in the Isle of Wight." 

"His what?" 

" His honeymoon ; he informs me that he is just married." 

" Married ? Geoff married ? Who to ? What a very- 
extraordinary thing ! Who is he married to ?" 

" He has not reposed sufficient confidence in me to ac- 



Annie. 157 

quaint me with the lady's name, probably guessing rightly 
that I was not in the least curious upon the point, and that 
to know it would not have afforded me the slightest satis- 
faction." 

"No, of course not; how very odd!" That was all 
Annie Maurice said, her chin resting on her hand, her eyes 
looking straight before her. 

"What is very odd?" said Caterham, in a harsh voice. 
" That Mr. Ludlow should get married ? Upon my honour 
I can't see the eccentricity. It is not, surely, his ex- 
treme youth that should provoke astonishment, nor his 
advanced age, for the matter of that. He's not endowed 
with more wisdom than most of us to prevent his making a 
fool of himself. What there is odd about the fact of his 
marriage I cannot understand." 

" No, Arthur," said Annie, very quietly, utterly ignoring 
the querulous tone of Caterham's remarks ; " very likely you 
can't understand it, because Mr. Ludlow is a stranger to you, 
and you judge him as you would any other stranger. But if 
you'd known him in the old days when he used to come up 
to us at Willesden, and papa was always teasing him about 
being in love with the French teacher at Minerva House, a 
tall old lady with a moustache ; or with the vicar's daughter, 
a sandy-haired girl in spectacles ; and then poor papa would 
laugh, — O, how he would laugh ! — and declare that Mr. 
Ludlow would be a bachelor to the end of his days. And 
now he's married, you say ? How very, very strange !" 

If Lord Caterham had been going to make any further 
unpleasant remark, he checked himself abruptly, and looking 
into Annie's upturned pondering face, said, in his usual 
tone, 

"Well, married or not married, he won't throw us over; 
he will hold to his engagement with us. His letter tells me 
he will be back in town at the end of the week, and will then 
settle times with us; so that we shall have our drawing- 
lessons after all." 

But Annie, evidently thoroughly preoccupied, only answered 
methodically, " Yes— of course — thank you — yes." So Lord 
Caterham was left to chew the cud of his own reflections, 
which, from the manner in which he frowned to himself, and 
sat blankly drumming with his fingers on the desk before 
him, was evidently no pleasant mental pabulum. So that 



158 Land at Last. 

he was not displeased when there came a sonorous tap at 
the door, to which, recognising it at once, he called out, 
" Come in !" 



CHAPTER IV 

ALGY EARFORD'S NEWS. 

IT was the Honourable Algy Barford who opened the 
door, and came in with his usual light and airy swing, 
stopping the minute he saw a lady present, to remove his hat 
and to give an easy bow. He recognised Annie at once, 
and, as she and he were great allies, he went up to her and 
shook hands. 

" Charmed to see you, Miss Maurice. This is delightful — 
give you my word ! Come to see this dear old boy here — 
how are you, Caterham, my dear fellow ? — and find you in his 
den, lighting it up like — like — like — I'm regularly basketed, 
by Jove ! You know what you light it up like, Miss 
Maurice." 

Annie laughed as she said, " O, of course I know, Mr. 
Barford ; but I'm sorry to say the illumination is about 
immediately to be extinguished, as I must run away. So 
good-bye; good-bye, Arthur. I shall see you to-morrow." 
And she waved her hand, and tripped lightly away. 

" Gad, what a good-natured charming girl that is ! " said 
Algy Barford, looking after her. " I always fancy that if 
ever I could have settled down — but I never could — im- 
possible ! I'm without exception the most horrible scoundrel 
that — what's the matter, Caterham, dear old boy ? you seem 
very down this morning, floundered, by Jove, so far as flat- 
ness is concerned. What is it ?" 

" I — oh, I don't know, Algy ; a little bored, perhaps, this 
morning — hipped, you know." 

"Know! I should think I did. I'm up to my watch- 
guard myself — think I'll take a sherry peg, just to keep 
myself up. This is a dull world, sir ; a very wearying orb. 
Gad, sometimes I think my cousin, poor Jack Hamilton, was 
right, after all." 

"What did he say?" asked Caterham, not caring a bit, 
but for the sake of keeping up the conversation. 



A/gy Barfor(Ts News. 159 

" Say ! well, not much ; he wasn't a talker, poor Jack ; 
but what he did say was to the purpose. He was a very 
lazy kind of bird, and frightfully easily bored ; so one day 
he got up, and then he wrote a letter saying that he'd lived 
for thirty years, and that the trouble of dressing himself 
every morning and undressing himself every night was so 
infernal that he couldn't stand it any longer ; and then he 
blew his brains out." 

" Ah," said Lord Caterham; " he got tired of himself, you 
see ; and when you once do that, there's nobody you get so 
tired of." 

" I daresay, dear old boy, though it's a terrific notion. 
Can't say I'm tired of myself quite yet, though there are 
times when I have a very low opinion of myself, and think 
seriously of cutting myself the next time we meet. What's 
the news with you, my dear Caterham ?" 

" News ! what should be the news with me, Algy ? Shut 
up in this place, like a rat in a cage, scarcely seeing any one 
but the doctor." 

u Couldn't see a better fellow for news, my dear old boy. 
Doctors were always the fellows for news,— and barbers ! — ■ 
Figaro he' and Figaro la, and all that infernal rubbish that 
people laugh at when Ronconi sings it, always makes me 
deuced melancholy, by Jove. Well, since you've no news 
for me, let me think what I heard at the Club. Deuced 
nice club we've got now ; best we've ever had since that 
dear old Velvet Cushion was done up." 

"What's it called?" 

" The Pelham ; nothing to do with the Newcastle people 
or any thing of that sort ; called after some fellow who wrote 
a book about swells ; or was the hero of a book about 
swells, or something. Deuced nice place, snug and cosy ; 
a little overdone with Aldershot, perhaps, and, to a critical 
mind, there might be a thought too much Plunger ; but I 
can stand the animal tolerably well." 

" I know it ; at least I've heard of it," said Caterham. 
" They play very high, don't they ?" 

<; O, of course you've heard it, I forgot ; dear old Lionel 
belonged to it. Play ! n-no, I don't think so. You can 
if you like, you know, of course. For instance, Lampeter — ■ 
Lamb Lampeter they call him ; he's such a mild-looking 
party — won two thousand of Westonhanger the night before 



160 Land at Lasi, 

last at ccarte — two thousand pounds, sir, in crisp bank-notes ! 
All fair and above board too. They had a corner table 
at first ; but when Westonhanger was dropping his money 
and began doubling the stakes, Lampeter said, ' All right, 
my lord ; I'm with you as far as you like to go ; but when 
so much money's in question, it perhaps might be advisable 
to take one of the tables in the middle of the room, where 
any one can stand round and see the play.' They did, and 
Westonhanger' s estate is worse by two thou' " 

" As you say, that does not look at all as if they played 
there." 

"What I meant was that I didn't think dear old Lionel 
ever dropped much there. I don't know, though ; I rather 
think Gamson had him one night. Wonderful little fellow, 
Gamson ! — tremendously good-looking boy ! — temporary 
extra-clerk at two guineas a-week in the Check and Counter- 
check Office ; hasn't got another regular rap in the world 
besides his pay, and plays any stakes you like to name. 
Seems to keep luck in a tube, like you do scent, and 
squeezes it out whenever he wants it. I am not a playing 
man myself ; but I don't fancy it's very hard to win at the 
Pelham. These Plungers and fellows up from the Camp, 
they always will play; and as they've had a very heavy 
dinner and a big drink afterwards, it stands to reason that 
any fellow with a clear head and a knowledge of the game 
can pick them up at once, without any sharp practice." 

"Yes," said Lord Caterham, "it seems a very charming 
place. I suppose wheel-chairs are not admitted? How 
sorry I am ! I should have so enjoyed mixing with the 
delightful society which you describe, Algy. And what news 
had Mr. damson and the other gentlemen?" 

"Tell you what it is, Caterham, old boy, you've got a 
regular wire-drawing fit on to-day. Let's see; what news 
had I to tell you ? — not from Gamson, of course, or any 
of those hairy Yahoos from Aldershot, who are always 
tumbling about the place. O, I know ! Dick Ffrench has 
just come up from Denne, — the next place, you know, 
to Eversfield, your old uncle Ampthill's house ; and he 
says the old boy's frightfully ill — clear case of hooks, you 
know ; and I thought it might be advisable that your people 
should know, in case any thing might be dune towards 
working the testamentary oracle. The old gentleman used 



Algy Barford's News. 161 

to be very spoony on Lionel, years ago, I think I've heard 
him say." 

"Well, what then?" 

" Gad, you catch a fellow up like the Snapping-Turtle, 
Caterham. I don't know what then ; but I thought if the 
thing were properly put to him — if there was any body 
to go down to Eversfield and square it with old Ampthill, 
he might leave his money — and there's no end of it, I hear 
— or some of it at least, to poor old Lionel." 

'' And suppose he did. Do you think, Algy Barford, 
after what has happened, that Lionel Brakespere could 
show his face in town? Do you think that a man of 
Lionel's spirit could face-out the cutting which he'd receive 
from every one ? — and rightly too ; I'm not denying that. I 
only ask you if you think he could do it ?" 

" My dear old Caterham, you are a perfect child ! — coral 
and bells and blue sash, and all that sort of thing, by Jove ! 
If Lionel came back at this instant, there are very few men 
who'd remember his escapade, unless he stood in their way ; 
then, I grant you, they would bring it up as unpleasantly as 
they could. But if he were to appear in society as old 
Ampthill's heir, there's not a man in his old set that 
wouldn't welcome him ; no, by George, not a woman of his 
acquaintance that wouldn't try and hook him for self or 
daughter, as the case might be." 

" I'm sorry to hear it," was all Caterham said in reply. 

What did Lord Caterham think of when his friend was 
gone? What effect had the communication about Mr. 
Ampthill's probable legacy had on him ? But one thing 
crossed his mind. If Lionel returned free, prosperous, and 
happy, would he not fall in love with Annie Maurice ? His 
experience in such matters had been but limited; but 
judging by his own feelings, Lord Caterham could imagine 
nothing more likely. 



W 



t62 Land at Last 

CHAPTER V. 

SETTLING DOWN. 

IT was not likely that a man of Geoffrey Ludlow's tempera- 
ment would for long keep himself from falling into 
what was to be the ordinary tenor of his life, even had his 
newly-espoused wife been the most exacting of brides, and 
delighted in showing her power by keeping him in perpetual 
attendance upon her. It is almost needless to say that 
Margaret was guilty of no weakness of this kind. If the 
dread truth must be told, she took far too little interest in 
the life to which she had devoted herself to busy herself 
about it in detail. She had a general notion that her whole 
future was to be intensely respectable ; and in the minds of 
all those persons with whom she had hitherto been associated, 
respectability meant dulness of the most appalling kind ; 
meant two-o'clock-shoulder-of-mutton-and-weak-Romford-ale 
dinner, five o'clock tea, knitting, prayers, and a glass of 
cold water before going to bed ; meant district-visiting and 
tract-distributing, poke bonnets and limp skirts, a class on 
Sunday afternoons, and a visit to the Crystal Palace with 
the school-children on a summer's day. She did not think 
it would be quite as bad as this in her case j indeed, she 
had several times been amused — so far as it lay in her now 
to be amused — by hearing Geoffrey speak of himself, with 
a kind of elephantine liveliness, as a roisterer and a Bohe- 
mian. But she was perfectly prepared to accept whatever 
happened; and when Geoff told her, the day after his 
mother's visit, that he must begin work again and go on as 
usual, she took it as a matter of course. 

So Geoff arranged his new studio, and found out his best 
light, and got his easel into position ; and Flexor arrived 
with the lay-figure which had been passing its vacation in 
Little Flotsam Street ; and the great model recognised Mrs. 
Geoffrey Ludlow, who happened to look in, with a deferen- 
tial bow, and, with what seemed best under the circumstances, 
a look of extreme astonishment, as though he had never 
seen her before, and expected to find quite a different 
person. 

Gradually and one by one all the old accessories of Geoff's 



Settling Down. 163 

daily life seemed closing round him. A feeble ring, heard 
while he and his wife were at breakfast, would be followed 
by the servant's announcement of " the young person, sir, 
a-waitin' in the stujo ;" and the young person — a model — 
would be found objurgating the distance from town, and yet 
appreciative of the beauty of the spot when arrived at. 

And Mr. Stompff had come; of course he had. No 
sooner did he get Geoff's letter announcing his return than 
he put himself into a hansom cab, and went up to Elm 
Lodge. For Mr. Stompff was a man of business. His 
weak point was, that he judged other men by his own 
standard ; and knowing perfectly well that if any other man 
had had the success which Geoffrey Ludlow had achieved 
that year, he (Stompff) would have worked heaven and 
earth to get him into his clutches, he fancied that Caniche, 
and all the other dealers, would be equally voracious, and 
that the best thing he could do would be to strike the iron 
while it was hot, and secure Ludlow for himself. He 
thought too that this was rather a good opportunity for such 
a proceeding, as Ludlow's exchequer was likely to be low, 
and he could the more easily be won over. So the hansom 
made its way to Elm Lodge ; and its fare, under the title 
of "a strange gentleman, sir!" was ushered into Geoff's 
studio. 

" Well, and how are you, Ludlow ! What did she say, 
'a strange gentleman'? Yes, Mary, my love! I am a 
strange gentleman, as you'll find out before I've done with 
you." Mr. Stompff laid his finger to his nose, and winked 
with exquisite facetiousness. " Well, and how are you ? 
safe and sound, and all the rest of it ! And how's Mrs. L. ? 
Must introduce me before I go. And what are you about 
now, eh? What's this?" 

He stopped before the canvas on the easel, and began 
examining it attentively. 

"That's nothing!" said Geoffrey; "merely an outline of 
a notion I had of the Esplanade at Brighton. I don't think 
it would make a bad subject. You see, here I get the 
invalids in Bath -chairs, the regular London swells pro- 
menading it, the boatmen ; the Indian-Mutiny man, with 
his bandaged foot and his arm in a sling and his big beard ; 
some excursionists with their baskets and bottles ; some 
Jews, and — " 

m a 



164 Land at Last. 

" Capital ! nothing could be better ! Hits the taste oi 
the day, my boy ; shoots folly, and no flies, as the man said. 
That's your ticket ! Any body else seen that !" 

" Well, literally not a soul. It's only just begun, and no 
one has been here since I returned." 

" That's all right ! Now what's the figure ? You're going 
to open your mouth, I know ; you fellows always do when 
you've made a little success." 

" Well, you see," began old Geoff, in his usual hesitating 
diffident manner, " it's a larger canvas than I've worked on 
hitherto, and there are a good many more figures, and — " 

" Will five hundred suit you ?" 

" Ye-es ! Five hundred would be a good price, for — " 

" All right ! shake hands on it ! I'll give you five hundred 
for the copyright — right and away, mind ! — sketch, picture, 
and right of engraving. We'll get it to some winter-gallery, 
and you'll have another ready for the Academy. Nothing 
like that, my boy ! I know the world, and you don't. 
What the public likes, you give them as much of as you 
can. Don't you believe in over-stocking the market with 
Ludlows ; that's all stuff ! Let 'em have the Ludlows while 
they want 'em. In a year or two they'll fight like devils 
to get a Jones or a Robinson, and wonder how the deuce 
any body could have spent their money on such a dauber 
as Ludlow. Don't you be offended, my boy ; I'm only 
speakin' the truth. I buy you because the public wants 
you ; and I turn an honest penny in sellin' you again ; not 
that I'm any peculiar nuts on you myself, either one way 
or t'other. Come, let's wet this bargain, Ludlow, my boy ; 
some of that dry sherry you pulled out when I saw you last 
at Brompton, eh?" 

Geoffrey rang the bell ; the sherry was produced, and Mr. 
Stompff enjoyed it with great gusto. 

" Very neat glass of sherry as ever I drank. Well, Ludlow, 
success to our bargain ! Give it a good name, mind ; that's 
half the battle ; and, I say, I wouldn't do too much about 
the Jews, eh ? You know what I mean ; none of that d — d 
nose-trick, you know. There's first-rate customers among 
the Jews, though they know more about pictures than most 
people, and won't be palmed off like your Manchester 
coves ; but when they do like a thing, they will have it ; 
and though they always insist upon discount, yet even thee, 



Stit/i/ig Down. 165 

with the price one asks for a picture, it pays. Well, you'll 
be able to finish that and two others — O, how do you do, 
mam ?" 

This last to Margaret, who, not knowing that her husband 
had any one with him, was entering the studio. She bowed, 
and was about to withdraw ; but Geoff called her back, and 
presented Mr. Stompff to her. 

" Very glad to make your acquaintance, mam," said that 
worthy, seizing her hand ; "heard of you often, and recognise 
the picture of Scyllum and Something in an instant. En- 
joyed yourself in the country, I 'ope. That's all right. 
But nothing like London ; that's the place to pick up the 
dibs. I've been telling our friend here he must stick to 
it, now he's a wife to provide for ; for we know what's what, 
don't we, Mrs. Ludlow? Three pictures a year, my boy, 
and good-sized 'uns too ; no small canvases : that's what we 
must have out of you." 

Geoffrey laughed as he said, " Well, no ; not quite so 
much as that. Recollect, I intend to take my wife out occa- 
sionally; and besides, I've promised to give some drawing 
lessons." 

" What!" shrieked Mr. Stompff; "drawing-lessons ! a man 
in your position give drawing-lessons ! I never heard such 
madness ! You musn't do that, Ludlow." 

The words were spoken so decidedly that Margaret bit 
her lips, and turned to look at her husband, whose face 
flushed a deep red, and whose voice stuttered tremendously 
as he gasped out, " B-but I shall ! D-don't you say ' must,' 
please, to me, Mr. Stompff; because I don't like it; and 
I don't know what the d-deuce you mean by using such a 
wurd !" 

'• Mr. Stompff glanced at Margaret, whose face expressed 
the deepest disgust ; so, clearly perceiving the mistake he 
had made, he said, "Well, of course I only spoke as a 
friend ; and when one does that he needn't be in much 
doubt as to his reward. When I said 'must,' which seems 
to have riled you so, Ludlow, I said it for your own sake. 
However, you and I sha'n't fall out about that. Don't you 
give your pictures to any one else, and we shall keep square 
enough. Where are you going to give drawing-lessons, if 
one may be bold enough to ask ?" 

" In St. Barnabas Square, to a young lady, a very old 



1 6 6 Land at Last. 

friend of mine, and a protegee of Lord Caterham's," said 
Geoffrey, whose momentary ire had died out. 

" O, Lord Caterham's ! that queer little deformed chap. 
Good little fellow, too, they say he is ; sharp, and all that 
kind of thing. Well, there's no harm in that. I thought 
you were going on the philanthropic dodge — to schools and 
working-men, and that lay. There's one rule in life, — you 
never lose any thing by being civil to a bigwig; and this 
little chap, I daresay, has influence in his way. By the way, 
you might ask him to give a look in at my gallery, if he's 
passing by. Never does any harm, that kind of thing. 
Well, I can't stay here all day. Men of business must 
always be pushing on, Mrs. Ludlow. Good day to you ; 
and, I say, when — hem ! there's any thing to renounce the 
world, the flesh, and the — hey, you understand ? any body 
wanted to promise and vow, you know, — I'm ready ; send 
for me. I've got my eye on a silver mug already. Good- 
bye, Ludlow ; see you next week. Three before next May, 
recollect, and all for me. Ta-ta !" and Mr. Stompff stepped 
into his cab, and drove off, kissing his fat pudgy little 
hands, with a great belief in Geoffrey Ludlow and a holy 
horror of his wife. 

In the course of the next few days Geoffrey wrote to 
Lord Caterham, telling him that he was quite ready to 
commence Miss Maurice's instruction ; and shortly after- 
wards received an answer naming a day for the lessons 
to commence. On arriving at the house Geoff was shown 
into Lord Caterham's room, and there found Annie waiting 
to receive him. Geoff advanced, and shook hands warmly ; 
but he thought Miss Maurice's manner was a little more 
reserved than on the last occasion of their meeting. 

" Lord Caterham bade me make his excuses to you, Mr. 
Ludlow," said she. " He hopes to see you before you go ; 
but he is not very well just now, and does not leave his room 
till later in the day." 

Geoff was a little hurt at the " Mr. Ludlow." Like all 
shy men, he was absurdly sensitive; and at once thought 
that he saw in this mode of address a desire on Annie's part 
to show him his position as drawing-master. So he merely 
said he was "sorry for the cause of Lord Caterham's ab- 
sence ;" and they proceeded at once to work. 



Settling Down. 167 

But the ice on either side very soon melted away, Geoff 
had brought with him an old sketch-book, filled with scraps 
of landscape and figures, quaint bizarre caricatures, and 
little bits of every-day life, all drawn at Willesden Priory or 
in its neighbourhood, all having some little history of their 
own appealing to Annie's love of those old days and that 
happy home. And as she looked over them, she began to 
talk about the old times ; and very speedily it was, " O, 
Geoff, don't you remember?" and " O, Geoff, will you ever 
forget ?" and so on; and they went on sketching and talking 
until, to Annie at least, the present and the intervening time 
faded away, and she was again the petted little romp, and he 
was dear old Geoff, her best playmate, her earliest friend, 
whom she used to drive round the gravel-paths in her 
skipping-rope harness, and whose great shock head of hair 
used to cause her such infinite wonder and amusement. 

As she sat watching him bending over the drawing, she 
remembered with what anxiety she used to await his coming 
at the Priory, and with what perfect good-humour he bore 
all her childish whims and vagaries. She remembered how 
he had always been her champion when her papa had been 
brusque or angry with her, saying, " Fairy was too small to be 
scolded ;" how when just before that horrible bankruptcy 
took place and all the household were busy with their own 
cares, she, suffering under some little childish illness, was 
nursed by Geoff, then staying in the house with a vague idea 
of being able to help Mr. Maurice in his trouble ; how he 
carried her in his arms to and fro, to and fro, during the 
whole of one long night, and hushed her to sleep with the 
soft tenderness of a woman. She had thought of him often 
and often during her life at Ricksborough Vicarage, always 
with the same feelings of clinging regard and perfect trust ; 
and now she had found him. Well, no, not him exactly; 
she doubted very much whether Mr. Ludlow the rising 
artist was the same as the " dear old Geoff " of the Willesden- 
Priory days. There was — and then, as she was thinking all 
this, Geoff raised his eyes from the drawing, and smiled his 
dear old happy smile, and put his pencil between his teeth, 
and slowly rubbed his hands while he looked over his sketch, 
so exactly as he used to do fifteen years before, that she felt 
more than ever annoyed at that news which Arthur had told 
her a few days ago about Mr. Ludlow being married. 



1 68 Land at Last, 

Yes, it was annoyance she felt ! there was no other word 
for it. In the old days he had belonged entirely to her, and 
why should he not now ? Her papa had always said that it 
was impossible Geoff could ever be any thing but an old 
bachelor, and an old bachelor he should have remained. 
What a ridiculous thing for a man at his time of life to 
import a new element into it by marriage ! It would have 
been so pleasant to have had him then, just in the old way ; 
to have talked to him and teased him, and looked up to him 
just as she used to do, and now — O, no ! it could not be the 
same ! no married man is ever the same with the friends of 
his bachelorhood, especially female friends, as he was before. 
And Mrs. Ludlow, what was she like ? what could have 
induced Geoff to marry her ? While Geoff's head was bent 
over the drawing, Annie revolved all this rapidly in her mind, 
and came to the conclusion that it must have been for 
money that Geoff plunged into matrimony, and that Mrs. 
Ludlow was either a widow with a comfortable jointure, 
in which case Annie pictured her to herself as short, stout, 
and red-faced, with black hair in bands and a perpetual 
black-silk dress ; or a small heiress of uncertain age, thin, 
with hollow cheeks and a pointed nose, ringlets of dust- 
coloured hair, a pinched waist, and a soured temper. And 
to think of Geoff's going and throwing away the rest of his 
life on a person of this sort, when he might have been so 
happy in his old bachelor way ! 

The more she thought of this the more she hated it. Why 
had he not announced to them that he was going to be 
married, when she first met him after that long lapse of years? 
To be sure, the rooms at the Royal Academy were scarcely 
the place in which to enter on such a matter ; but then — 
who could she be? what was she like? It was so long 
since Geoff had been intimate with any one ; she knew that 
of course his range of acquaintance might have been changed 
a hundred times and she not know one of them. How very 
strange that he did not say any thing about it now ! He 
had been here an hour sketching and pottering about, and 
yet had not breathed a word about it. O, she would soon 
settle that ! 

So the next time Geoff looked up from his sketch, she 
said to him: "Are you longing to be gone, Geoffrey? 
Getting fearfully bored ? Is a horrible /leimzve/i settling 



Settling Down. 169 

down upon your soul? I suppose under the circumstances 
it ought to be, if it isn't." 

" Under what circumstances, Annie ? I'm not bored a 
bit, nor longing to be gone. What makes you think so?" 

"Only my knowledge of a fact which I've learned, though 
not from you — your marriage, Geoffrey." 

"Not from me! Pardon me, Annie; I begged Lord 
Caterham, to whom I announced it, specially to name it to 
you. And, if you must know, little child, I wondered you 
had said nothing to me about it." 

He looked at her earnestly as he said this ; and there was 
a dash of disappointment in his honest eyes. 

"I'm so sorry, Geoff — so sorry! But I didn't understand 
it so ; really I didn't," said Annie, already half-penitent. 
" Lord Caterham told me of the fact, but as from himself, 
not from you ; and — and I thought it odd that, considering 
all our old intimacy, you hadn't — " 

" Odd ! why, God bless my soul ! Annie, you don't think 
that I shouldn't ; but, you see, it was all so — At all events, 
I'm certain I told Lord Caterham to tell you." 

Geoff was in a fix here. His best chance of repudiating 
the idea that he had willfully neglected informing Annie of 
his intended marriage was the true reason, that the marriage 
itself was, up to within the shortest time of its fulfilment, so 
unlooked for; but this would throw a kind of slur on his 
wife ; at all events, would prompt inquiries ; so he got 
through it as best he could with the stuttering excuses above 
recorded. 

They seemed to avail with Annie Maurice ; for she only 
said, " O, yes ; I daresay it was some bungle of yours. You 
always used to make the most horrible mistakes, Geoff, I've 
heard poor papa say a thousand times, and get out of it in 
the lamest manner." Then, after a moment, she said, "You 
must introduce me to your wife, Geoffrey ; " and, almost 
against her inclination, added, " What is she like?" 

" Introduce you, little child ? Why, of course I will, and 
tell her how long I have known you, and how you used to 
sit on my knee, and be my little pet," said old Geoff, in a 
transport of delight. " O, I think you'll like her, Annie. 
She is — yes, I may say so — she is very beautiful, and — and 
very quiet and good." 

Geoff's ignorance of the world is painfully manifested in 



-t 7° Land at Last. 

this speech. No woman could possibly be pleased to hear 
of her husband having been in the habit of having any little 
pet on his knee ; and in advancing her being " very beautiful" 
as a reason for liking his wife, Geoff showed innocence which 
was absolutely refreshing. 

Very beautiful ! Was that mere conjugal blindness or 
real fact ? Taken in conjunction with " very quiet and good," 
it looked like the former ; but then where beauty was con- 
cerned Geoff had always been a stern judge ; and it was 
scarcely likely that he would suffer his judgment, founded on 
the strictest abstract principles, to be warped by any whim 
or fancy. Very beautiful ! — the quietude and goodness 
came into account, — very beautiful ! 

" O, yes ; I must come and see Mrs. Ludlow, please. 
You will name a day before you go ?" 

" Name a day ! What for, Annie ?" 

Lord Caterham was the speaker, sitting in his chair, and 
being wheeled in from his bedroom by Stephens. His tone 
was a little harsh ; his temper a little sharp. He had all 
along determined that Annie and Geoff should not be left 
alone together on the occasion of her first lesson. But 
rhomme propose et Dieu dispose; and Caterham had been 
unable to raise his head from his pillow, with one of those 
fearful neuralgic headaches which occasionally affected him. 

" What for ! Why, to be introduced to Mrs. Ludlow ! 
By the way, you seem to have left your eyes in the other 
room, Arthur. You have not seen Mr. Ludlow before, have 
you?" 

"I beg Mr. Ludlow a thousand pardons !" said Caterham, 
who had forgotten the announcement of Geoffrey's marriage, 
and who hailed the recalling of the past with intense gratifi- 
cation. " I'm delighted to see you, Mr. Ludlow ; and very 
grateful to you for coming to fill up so agreeably some of 
our young lady's blank time. If I thought you were a con- 
ventional man, I should make you a pretty conventional 
speech of gratulation on your marriage; but as I'm sure 
you're something much better, I leave that to be inferred." 

" You are very good," said Geoff. " Annie was just saying 
that I should introduce my wife to her, and — " 

" Of course, of course !" said Caterham, a little dashed by 
the familiarity of the " Annie." " I hope to see Mrs. Ludlow 
here ; not merely as a visitor to a wretched bachelor like 



At Home. 171 

myself; but I'm sure my mother would be very pleased to 
welcome her, and will, if you please, do herself the honour 
of calling on Mrs. Ludlow." 

"Thank you, Arthur; you are very kind, and I appreciate 
it,'' said Annie, in a low voice, crossing to his chair; "but 
my going will be a different thing ; I mean, as an old friend 
of Geoff's, /may go and see his wife." 

An old friend of Geoff's ! Still the same bond between 
them, in which he had no part — an intimacy with which he 
had nothing to do. 

" Of course," said he; "nothing could be more natural." 

" Little Annie coming to be introduced to Margaret !" 
thought Geoff, as he walked homeward, the lesson over. 
This, then, was to be Margaret's first introduction to his old 
friend. Not much fear of their not getting on together. 
And yet, on reflection, Geoff was not so sure of that, after all. 



CHAPTER VI. 



AT HOME. 



THE people of Lowbar, lusty citizens with suburban 
residences — lawyers,- proctors, and merchants, all 
warm people in money matters — did not think much of the 
advent into their midst of a man following an unrecognised 
profession, which had no ledger-and-day-book responsibility, 
employed no clerks, and ministered to no absolute want. It 
was not the first time indeed that they had heard of an artist 
being encamped among them; for in the summer several 
brethren of the brush were tempted to make a temporary 
sojourn in the immediate vicinity of the broad meadows and 
suburban prettinesses. But these were mere birds of passage, 
who took lodgings over some shop in the High Street, and 
who were never seen save by marauding schoolboys or wan- 
dering lovers, who would come suddenly upon a bearded 
man smoking a pipe, and sketching away under the shade of 
a big white umbrella. To wear a beard and, in addition to 
that enormity, to smoke a pipe, were in themselves sufficient, 
in the eyes of the worthy inhabitants of Lowbar, to prove 
that a man was on the high-road to destruction; but they 



172 Land at Last. 

consoled themselves with the reflection that the evil-doei 
was but a sojourner amongst them. Now, however, had 
arrived a man in the person of Geoffrey Ludlow, who not 
merely wore a beard and smoked a pipe, but further flew in 
the face of all decently-constituted society by having a beau- 
tiful wife. * And this man had not come into lodgings, but 
had regularly established himself in poor Mrs. Pierce's house, 
which he had had all done up and painted and papered and 
furnished in a manner — so at least Mr. Brandram the doctor 
said — that might be described as gorgeous. 

Now, as the pretty suburb of Lowbar is still a good 
score of years behind the world, its inhabitants could not 
understand this at all, and the majority of them were rather 
scandalised than otherwise, when they found that the vicar 
and his wife had called on the new-comers. Mr. Brandram 
the doctor had called too ; but that was natural. He was a 
pushing man was Brandram, and a worldly man, so unlike 
Priestley, the other doctor, who was a retiring gentleman. 
So at least said Priestley's friends and Brandram's enemies. 
Brandram was a little man of between fifty and sixty, neat, 
and a little horsy in his dress, cheerful in his manner, fond 
of recommending good living, and fond of taking his own 
prescription. He was a little " fast " for Lowbar, going to 
the theatre once or twice in the year, and insisting upon 
having novels for the Book- Society ; whereas Priestley's 
greatest dissipation was attending a "humorous lecture" at 
the Mechanics' Institute, and his lightest reading a book of 
Antipodean travel. Brandram called at Elm Lodge, of 
course, and saw both Geoff and Margaret, and talked of the 
Academy pictures, — which he had carefully got up from the 
catalogue and the newspaper-notices, — and on going away, 
left Mrs. Brandram's card. For three weeks afterwards, that 
visit supplied the doctor with interesting discourse for his 
patients : he described all the alterations which had been 
made in the house since Mrs. Pierce's death ; he knew the 
patterns of the carpets, the colours of the curtains, the style 
of the furniture. Finally, he pronounced upon the new- 
comers j described Geoff as a healthy man of a sanguineous 
temperament, not much cut out for the Lowbar folk ; and 
his wife as a beautiful woman, but lymphatic. 

These last were scarcely the details which the Lowbar 
folk wanted to know. They wanted to know all about the 



At Home. 1 73 

tnbiage; in what style the new-comers lived j whether they 
kept much or any company ; whether they agreed well 
together. This last was a point of special curiosity; for, 
in common with numberless other worthy, commonplace, 
stupid people, the Lowbar folk imagined that the private 
lives of " odd persons " — under which heading they in- 
clused all professors of literature and art of any kind — were 
passed in dissipation and wrangling. How the information 
was to be obtained was the great point, for they knew that 
nothing would be extracted from the vicar, even if he had 
been brimful of remarks upon his new parishioners, which, 
indeed, he was not, as they neither of them happened to 
be at home when he called. It would be something to be 
well assured about their personal appearance, especially 
her personal appearance ; to see whether there were really 
any grounds for this boast of beauty which Dr. Brandram 
went talking about in such a ridiculous way. The church 
was the first happy hunting-ground pitched upon ; and 
during the first Sunday after Geoff's and Margaret's arrival 
the excitement during divine service was intense ; the wor- 
shippers in the middle and side aisles, whose pews all faced 
the pulpit, and whose backs were consequently turned to 
the entrance-door, regarding with intense envy their friends 
whose pews confronted each other between the pulpit and 
the altar, and who, consequently, while chanting the responses 
or listening to the lesson, could steal furtive glances on every 
occasion of the door's opening, without outraging propriety. 
But when it was found that the new-comers did not attend 
either morning or evening service, — and unquestionably a 
great many members of the congregation had their dinner 
of cold meat and salad (it was considered sinful in Lowbar 
to have hot dinners on Sunday) at an abnormally early 
hour for the purpose of attending evening service on the 
chance of seeing the new arrivals, — it was considered neces- 
sary to take more urgent measures ; and so the little Misses 
Coverdale — two dried-up little chips of spinsters with cork- 
screw ringlets and black-lace mittens, who kept house for 
their brother, old Coverdale, the red-faced, white-headed 
proctor, Geoffrey's next-door neighbour — had quite a little 
gathering the next day, the supposed object of which was to 
take tea and walk in the garden, but the real object to 
peep furtively over the wall and try and catch a glimpse 



i 74 Land at Last. 

of her who was already sarcastically known as " Dr. Brand- 
ram's beauty." Some of the visitors, acquainted with the 
peculiarities of the garden, knowing what mound to stand 
on and what position to take up, were successful in catching 
a glimpse of the top of Margaret's hair — " all taken off her 
face like a schoolgirl's, and leaving her cheeks as bare as 
bare," as they afterwards reported — as she wandered list- 
lessly round the garden, stooping now and then to smell 
or gather a flower. One or two others were also rewarded 
by the sight of Geoffrey in his velvet painting-coat ; among 
them, Letty Coverdale, who pronounced him a splendod 
man, and, O, so romantic-looking ! for all ideas of matrimony 
had not yet left Miss Letty Coverdale, and the noun-sub- 
stantive Man yet caused her heart to beat with an extra 
throb in her flat little chest ; whereas Miss Matty Coverdale, 
who had a face like a horse, and who loudly boasted that 
she had never had an offer of marriage in her life, snorted 
out her wonder that Geoff did not wear a surtout like a 
Christian, and her belief that he'd be all the cleaner after a 
visit to Mr. Ball, who was the Lowbar barber. 

But bit by bit the personal appearance of both of them 
grew sufficiently familiar to many of the inhabitants, some 
of the most courageous of whom had actually screwed 
themselves up to that pitch of boldness necessary for the 
accomplishment of calling and leaving cards on strangers 
pursuing a profession unnamed in the Directory, and certainly 
not one of the three described in Mangnalts Questions 
The calls were returned, and in some cases were succeeded 
by invitations to dinner. But Geoffrey cared little for these, 
and Margaret earnestly begged they might be declined. If 
she found her life insupportably dull and slow, this was 
not the kind of relief for which she prayed. A suburban 
dinner-party would be but a dull parody on what she had 
known ; would give her trouble to dress for, without the 
smallest compensating amusement; would leave her at the 
mercy of stupid people, among whom she would probably 
be the only stranger, the only resource for staring eyes 
and questioning tongues. That they would have stare? 
and questioned, there is little doubt ; but they certainly 
intended hospitality. The " odd" feeling about the Ludlows 
prevalent on their first coming had worn off, and now the 
tfde seemed setting the other way. Whether it was that 



At Home. 175 

the tradesmen's books were regularly paid, that the lights 
at Elm Lodge were seldom or never burning after eleven 
o'clock, that Geoffrey's name had been seen in the Times, 
as having been present at a dinner given by Lord Everton, 
a very grand dinner, where he was the only untitled man 
among the company, or for whatever other reason, there 
was a decided disposition to be civil to them. No doubt 
Margaret's beauty had a great deal to do with it, so far 
as the men were concerned. Old Mr. Coverdale, who had 
been portentously respectable for half a century, but con* 
ceming whom there was a floating legend of "jolly dog-ism " 
in his youth, declared he had seen nothing like her since 
the Princess Charlotte ; and Abbott, known as Captain 
Abbott, from having once been in the Commissariat, who 
always wore a chin-tip and a tightly-buttoned blue frock- 
coat and pipe-clayed buckskin gloves, made an especial 
point of walking past Elm Lodge every afternoon, and 
bestowing on Margaret, whenever he saw her, a peculiar 
leer which had done frightful execution amongst the nurse- 
maids of Islington. Mrs. Abbott, a mild meek little woman, 
who practised potichomanie, delcomanie, the art of making 
wax-flowers, any thing whereby to make money to pay 
the tradespeople and supply varnish for her husband's boots 
and pocket-money for his menus phisirs, was not, it is 
needless to say, informed of these vagaries on the captain's 
part. 

They were discussed every where : at the Ladies' Clothing- 
Club, where one need scarcely say that the opinions concern- 
ing Margaret's beauty were a little less fervid in expression ; 
and at the Gentlemen's Book-Society, where a proposition 
to invite Geoff to be of their number, started by the vicar 
and seconded by old Mr. Coverdale, was opposed by Mr. 
Bryant (of Bryant and Martin, coach-builders, Long Acre), 
on the ground that the first of the rules stated that this 
should be an association of gentlemen; and who could 
say what would be done next if artists was to be received ? 
The discussion on this point waxed very warm, and during 
it Mr. Cremer the curate incurred Mr. Bryant's deepest 
hatred for calling out to him, on his again attempting to 
address the meeting, "Spoke, spoke!" which Mr. Bryant 
looked upon as a sneer at his trade, and remembered 
litterly when the subscription was got up in the parish 



176 Land at Last. 

for presenting Mr. Cremer with the silver teapot and two 
hundred sovereigns, with which (the teapot at least) he 
proceeded to the rectory of Steeple Bumstead, in a distant 
part of the country. They were discussed by the regulars 
in the nine-o'clock omnibus, most of whom, as they passed 
by Elm Lodge and saw Geoff through the big window 
just commencing to set his palette, pitied him for having 
to work at home, and rejoiced in their own freedom from 
the possibility of conjugal inroad ; or, catching a glimpse 
of Margaret, poked each other in the ribs and told each 
other what a fine woman she was. They were discussed 
by the schoolboys going to school, who had a low opinion 
of art, and for the most part confined the remarks about 
Geoffrey to his having a " stunnin' beard," and about 
Margaret to her being a "regular carrots," the youthful 
taste being strongly anti-pre-Raffaellitic, and worshipping 
the raven tresses and straight noses so dear to the old 
romancers. 

And while all these discussions and speculations were 
rife, the persons speculated on and discussed were leading 
their lives without a thought of what people were saying 
of them. Geoff knew that he was doing good work ; he 
felt that intuitively as every man does feel it, quite as 
intuitively as when he is producing rubbish ; and he knew 
it further from the not-too-laudatorily-inclined Mr. Stompff, 
who came up from time to time, and could not refuse his 
commendation to the progress of the pictures. And then 
Geoff was happy — at least, well, Margaret might have been 
a little more lively perhaps ; but then — O, no ; he was 
thoroughly happy ! and Margaret — existed ! The curtain 
had dropped on her wedding-day, and she had been groping 
in darkness ever since. 

Time went on, as he does to all of us, whatever our 
appreciation of him may be, according to the mood we 
may happen to be in : swiftly to the happy and the old, 
slowly to the young and the wearied. There is that blessed 
compensation which pervades all human things, even in the 
flight of time. No matter how pleasant, how varied, how 
completely filled is the time of the young, it hangs on them 
somehow ; they do not feel it rush past them nor melt away, 
the hours swallowed up in days, the days in years, as do 



At Home. 177 

the elder people, who have no special excitement, no 
particular delight. The fact still remains that the young 
want time to fly, the old want him to crawl ; and that, 
fulfilling the wishes of neither, he speeds on cequo pede, 
grumbled at by both. 

The time went on. So Margaret knew by the rising and 
setting of the sun, by the usual meals, her own getting 
up and going to bed, and all the usual domestic routine. 
But by what else ? Nothing. She had been married now 
nearly six months, and from that experience she thought 
she might deduce something like an epitome of her life. 
"What was it ? She had a husband who doated on her ; 
who lavished on her comforts, superfluities, luxuries ; who 
seemed never so happy as when toiling at his easel, and 
who brought the products of his work to her to dispose 
of as she pleased. A husband who up to that hour of her 
thought had never in the smallest degree failed to fulfil 
her earliest expectations of him, — generous to a degree, 
kind-hearted, weak, and easily led. Weak ! weak as water. 
— Yes, and O yes ! What you like, my dear ! What you 
think best, my child ! That is for your decision, Margaret. 
I — I don't know ; I scarcely like to give an opinion. Don't 
you think you had better settle it ? I'll leave it all to you, 
please, dearest. — Good God ! if he would only say some- 
thing — as opposed to her ideas as possible, the more opposed 
the better — some assertion of self, some trumpet-note of 
argument, some sign of his having a will of his own, or 
at least an idea from which a will might spring. Here was 
the man who in his own art was working out the most 
admirable genius, showing that he had within him more 
of the divine afflatus than is given to nine hundred and 
ninety-nine in every thousand amongst us — a man who 
v /as rapidly lifting his name for the wonder and the envy 
of the best portion of the civilised world, incapable of 
saying "no" even to a proposition of hashed mutton for 
dinner, shirking the responsibility of a decision on the ques- 
tion of the proper place for a chair. 

Indeed, I fear that, so far as I have stated, the sympathies 
of women will go against old Geoff, who must, I fancy, have 
been what they are in the habit of calling " very trying." 
You see he brought with him to the altar a big generous old 
heart, full of love and adoration of his intended wife, full of 



178 Land at Last. 

resolution, in his old blunt way, to stand by her through evil 
and good report, and to do his duty by her in all honour 
and affection. He was any thing but a self-reliant man; 
but he knew that his love was sterling coin, truly unalloyed • 
and he thought that it might be taken as compensation 
for numerous deficiencies, the existence of which he readily 
allowed. You see he discovered his power of loving simul- 
taneously almost with his power of painting ; and I think 
that this may perhaps account for a kind of feeling that, 
as the latter was accepted by the world, so would the 
former be by the person to whom it was addressed. When 
he sent out the picture which first attracted Mr. Stompff's 
attention, he had no idea that it was better than a score 
others which he had painted during the course of his life ; 
when he first saw Margaret Dacre, he could not tell that 
the instinctive admiration would lead to any thing more 
than the admiration which he had already silently paid 
to half-a-hundred pretty faces. But both had come to a 
successful issue ; and he was only to paint his pictures with 
all the talent of his head and hand, and to love his wife 
with all the affection of his heart, to discharge his duty 
in life. 

He did this ; he worshipped her with all his heart. What- 
ever she did was right, whatever ought to have been discussed 
she was called upon to settle. They were very small affairs, 
as I have said, — of hashed mutton and jams, of the colour 
of a ribbon, or the fashion of a bonnet. Was there never 
to be any thing further than this ? Was life to consist 
in her getting up and struggling through the day and going 
to bed at Elm Lodge? The short breakfast, when Geoff 
was evidently dying to be off into the painting-room ; the 
long, long day, — composed of servants' instruction, news- 
paper, lunch, sleep, little walk, toilette, dinner, utterly feeble 
conversation, yawns and head-droppings, and finally bed. 
She had pictured to herself something quiet, tranquil, with- 
out excitement, without much change ; but nothing like 
this. 

Friends ? — relations ? O yes ! old Mrs. Ludlow came 
to see her now and then ; and she had .been several times 
to Brompton. The old lady was very kind in her pottering 
stupid way, and her daughter Matilda was kind also, but 
as once gushing and prudish ; so Margaret thought. And 



At Home. 179 

they both treated her as if she were a girl ; the old lady 
perpetually haranguing her with good advice and feeble 
suggestion, and Matilda — who, of course, like all girls, had, 
it was perfectly evident, some silly love-affair on with some 
youth who had not as yet declared himself — wanting to 
make her half-confidences, and half-asking for advice, which 
she never intended to take. A girl ? O yes, of course, she 
must play out that farce, and support that terribly vague 
story which old Geoff, pushed into a corner on a sudden, 
and without any one to help him at the instant, had fabri- 
cated concerning her parentage and belongings. And she 
must listen to the old lady's praises of Geoff, and how 
she thought it not improbable, if things went on as they were 
going, that the happiest dream of her life would be fulfilled 
— that she should ride in her son's carriage. " It would be 
yours, of course, my dear ; I know that well enough ; but 
you'd let me ride in it sometimes, just for the honour and 
glory of the thing." And they talked like this to her : the 
old lady of the glory of a carriage ; Matilda of some 
hawbuck wretch for whom she had a liking ; — to her ! who 
had sat on the box-seat of a drag a score of times, with 
half-a-score of the best men in England sitting behind her, 
all eager for a word or a smile. 

She saw them now, frequently, whenever she came over 
to Brompton, — all the actors in that bygone drama of her 
life, save the hero himself. It was the play of Hamlet with 
Hamlet left out, indeed. But what vast proportions did 
she then assume compared to what she had been lately ! 
There were Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, — the one in 
his mail-phaeton, the other on his matchless hack ; there 
was old Polonius in the high-collared bottle-green coat of 
thirty years back, guiding his clever cob in and out among 
the courtiers ; there was the Honourable Osric, simpering 
and fooling among the fops. She hurried across the Drive 
or the Row on her way to or from Brompton, and stood up, 
a little distance off, gazing at these comrades of old times. 
She would press her hands to her head, and wonder whether 
it was all true or a dream ; whether she was going back to 
the dull solemnity of Elm Lodge, when a dozen words 
would put her into that mail-phaeton — on to that horse ! 
How often had Rosencrantz ogled ! and was it not Guilden- 
stem's billet that, after reading, she tore up and threw in his 

N 3 



i8o Land at Last. 

face ? It was an awful temptation ; and she was obliged, 
as an antidote, to picture to herself the tortures she had 
suffered from cold and want and starvation, to bring her 
round at all to a sensible line of thought. 

Some one else had called upon her two or three times. 
O yes, a Miss Maurice, who came in a coroneted carriage, 
and to whom she had taken a peculiar detestation ; not 
from any airs she had given herself — O no ; there was 
nothing of that kind about her. She was one of those 
persons, don't you know, who have known your husband 
before his marriage, and take an interest in him, and must 
like you for his sake ; one of those persons who are so open 
and honest and above-board, that you take an immediate 
distrust of them at first sight, which you never get over. O 
no, Margaret was perfectly certain she should never like 
Annie Maurice. 

Music she had, and books ; but she was not very fond 
of the first, and only played desultorily. Geoff was most 
passionately fond of music ; and sometimes after dinner 
he would ask for "a tune," and then Margaret would 
sit down at the piano and let her fingers wander over 
the keys, gradually finding them straying into some of the 
brilliant dance-music of Auber and Musard, of Jullien and 
Kcenig, with which she had been familiarised during her 
Continental experience. And as she played, the forms 
familiarly associated with the music came trooping out ot 
the mist — Henri, so grand in the Cavalier seul, Jules and 
Eulalie, so unapproachable in the En avant deux. There 
they whirled in the hot summer evenings ; the parterre, 
illuminated with a thousand lamps glittering like fireflies, 
the sensuous strains of the orchestra soaring up to the 
great yellow-faced moon looking down upon it ; and then 
the cosy little supper, the sparkling iced drink, the — " Time 
for bed, eh, dear?" from old Geoff, already nodding with 
premature sleep; and away flew the bright vision at the 
rattle of the chamber-candlestick. 

Books ! yes, no lack of them. Geoff subscribed for her 
to the library, and every week came the due supply of 
novels. These Margaret read, some in wonder, some in 
scorn. There was a great run upon the Magdalen just 
then in that style of literature ; writers were beginning to 
be what is called "out-spoken;" and young ladies farai- 



What their Friends thought. 181 



0>' 



liarised with the outward life of the species, as exhibited 
in the Park and at the Opera, read with avidity of their 
diamonds and their ponies, of the interior of the menage, 
and of their spirited conversations with the cream of the 
male aristocracy. A deference to British virtue, and a 
desire to stand well with the librarian's subscribers, com- 
pelled an amount of repentance in the third volume which 
Margaret scarcely believed to be in accordance with truth. 
The remembrance of childhood's days, which made the 
ponies pall, and rendered the diamonds disgusting, — the 
inherent natural goodness, which took to eschewing of cri- 
noline and the adoption of serge, which swamped the colonel 
in a storm of virtuous indignation, and brought the curate 
safely riding over the billows, — were agreeable incidents, 
but scarcely, she thought, founded on fact. Her own experi- 
ence at least had taught her otherwise ; but it might be so 
after all. 

So her life wore drearily on. Would there never be any 
change in it ? Yes, one change at least Time brought in his 
flight. Dr. Brandram's visits were now regular ; and. one 
morning a shrill cry resounded through the house, and the 
doctor placed in its father's arms a strong healthy boy. 



CHAPTER VII. 

WHAT THEIR FRIENDS THOUGHT. 

GEOFFREY LUDLOW had married and settled himself 
in a not-too-accessible suburb, but he had not given up 
such of his old companions as were on a footing of undeniable 
intimacy with him. These were few in number; for although 
Geoff was a general favourite from his urbanity and the 
absence of any thing like pretentiousness in his disposition, 
he was considered slow by most of the bolder spirits among 
the artist-band. He was older than many of them certainly, 
but that was scarcely the reason; for there were jolly old 
dogs whose presence never caused the smallest reticence of 
song or story— gray and bald-headed old boys, who held 
their own in scurrility and slang, and were amon;>; the latest 
sitters and the deepest drinkers of the set. It is needless to 
say that in all their popularity — and they were popular after 



182 Land at Last. 

a fashion — there was not mingled one single grain of respect; 
while Geoffrey was respected as much as he was liked. But 
his shyness, his quiet domestic habits, and his perpetual hard 
work gave him little time for the cultivation of acquaintance, 
and he had only two really intimate friends, Avho were 
Charley Potts and William Bowker. 

Charley Potts had been " best man " at the marriage, and 
Geoffrey had caught a glimpse of old Bowker in hiding 
behind a pillar of the church. It was meet, then, that 
they — old companions of his former life — should see him 
under his altered circumstances, should know and be 
received by his wife, and should have the opportunity, if 
they wished for it, of keeping up at least a portion of the 
camaraderie of old days. Therefore after his return to 
London, and when he and his wife were settled down in 
Elm Lodge, Geoffrey wrote to each of his old friends, and 
said how glad he would be to see them in his new house. 

This note found Mr. Charles Potts intent upon a repre- 
sentation of Mr. Tennyson's " Dora," sitting with the child 
in the cornfield, a commission which he had received from 
Mr. Caniche, and which was to be paid for by no less a sum 
than a hundred and fifty pounds. The "Gil Bias" had 
proved a great success in the Academy, and had been pur- 
chased by a country rector, who had won a hundred-pound 
prize in the Art-Union ; so that Charley was altogether in 
very high feather and pecuniary triumph. He had not 
made much alteration in the style of his living or in the 
furniture of his apartment ; but he had cleared off a long 
score for beer and grog standing against him in the books 
kept by Caroline of signal fame ; he had presented Caroline 
herself with a cheap black-lace shawl, which had produced 
something like an effect at Rosherville Gardens ! and he 
had sent a ten-pound note to the old aunt who had taken 
care of him after his mother's death, and who wept tears of 
gratified joy on its receipt, and told all Sevenoaks of the 
talent and the goodness of her nephew. He had paid off 
some other debts also, and lent a pound or two here and 
there among his friends, and was even after that a capitalist 
to the extent of having some twenty pounds in the stomach 
of a china sailor, originally intended as a receptacle for 
tobacco. His success had taken effect on Charley. He 
had begun to think that there was really something in him, 



W/iat their Friends thought. 1 83 

Liter all; that life was, as the working-man observed, "not 
all beer and skittles;" and that if he worked honestly on, 
he might yet be able to realise a vision which had 
occasionally loomed through clouds of tobacco-smoke curling 
round his head ; a vision of a pleasant cottage out at 
Kilburn, or better still at Cricklewood ; with a bit of green 
lawn and a little conservatory, and two or three healthy 
children tumbling about; while their mother, uncommonly 
like Matilda Ludlow, looked on from the ivy-covered porch; 
and their father, uncommonly like himself, was finishing in 
the studio that great work which was to necessitate his 
election into the Academy. This vision had a peculiar 
charm for him; he worked away like a horse; the telegraphic 
signals to Caroline and the consequent supply of beer 
became far less frequent ; he began to eschew late nights, 
which he found led to late mornings; and the "Dora" was 
growing under his hand day by day. 

He was hard at work and had apparently worked himself 
into a knot, for he was standing a little distance from 
his easel, gazing vacantly at the picture and twirling his 
moustache with great vigour, — a sure sign of worry with 
him, — when the " tugging of the trotter " was heard, and on 
his opening the door, Mr. Bowker presented himself and 
walked in. 

"Tis I! Bowker the undaunted! Ha, Ha!" and Mr. 
Bowker gave two short stamps, and lunged with his walking- 
stick at his friend. "Give your William drink; he is 
athirst. What ! nothing of a damp nature about ? Potts, 
virtue and industry are good things ; and your William has 
been glad to observe that of late you have been endeavouring 
to practise both ; but industry is not incompatible with pale 
ale, and nimble fingers are oft allied to a dry palate. That 
sounds like one of the headings of the pages from Maunders' 
Treasury of Knowledge. — Send for some beer !" 

The usual pantomime was gone through by Mr. Potts,, and 
while it was in process, Bowker filled a pipe and walked 
towards the easel. "Very good, Charley; very good indeed. 
Nice fresh look in that girl — not the usual burnt-umber 
rusticity; but something — not quite — like the real ruddy 
peasant bronze. Child not bad either; looks as if it had 
got its feet in boxing-gloves, though ; you must alter that ; 



1 84 Land at Last 

and don't make its eyes quite so much like willow-pattern 
saucers. What's that on the child's head ?" 

" Hair, of course." 

"And what stuff's that the girl's sitting in?" 

"Corn! cornfield — wheat, you know, and that kind of 
stuff. What do you mean ? why do you ask ?" 

"Only because it seems to your William that both 
substances are exactly alike. If it's hair, then the girl is 
sitting in a hair-field ; if it's com, then the child has got corn 
growing on its head." 

" It'll have it growing on its feet some day, I suppose," 
growled Mr. Potts, with a grin. " You're quite right, though, 
old man; we'll alter that at once. — Well, what's new with 
you?" 

"New? Nothing! I hear nothing, see nothing, and 
know nobody. I might be a hermit-crab, only I shall never 
creep into any body else's shell ; my own — five feet ten by 
two feet six — will be ready quite soon enough for me. Stop ! 
what stuff I'm talking ! I very nearly forgot the object of 
my coming round to you this morning. Your William is 
asked into society ! Look ; here's a letter I received last 
night from our Geoff, asking me to come up to see his new 
house and be introduced to his wife." 

"I had a similar one this morning." 

" I thought that was on the cards, so I came round to see 
what you were going to do." 

"Do? I shall go, of course. So will you, won't you?" 

"Well, Charley, I don't know. I'm a queer old skittle, 
that has been knocked about in all manner of ways, and 
that has had no women's society for many years. So much 
the better, perhaps. I'm not pretty to look at; and I 
couldn't talk the stuff women like to have talked to them, 
and I should be horribly bored if I had to listen to it. So 
— and yet — God forgive me for growling so ! — there are 
times when I'd give a»y thing for a word of counsel and 
comfort in a woman's voice, for the knowledge that there 
was any woman — good woman, mind ! — no matter what — 
mother, sister, wife — who had an interest in what I did. 
There ! never mind that." 

Mr. Bowker stopped abruptly. Charley Potts waited for 
a minute; then puttir.g his hand affectionately on his 



Wliat their Friends thought. 1 8f 

friend's shoulder, said : " But our William will make an 
exception for our Geoff. You've known him so long, and 
you're so fond of him." 

"Fond of him! God bless him! No one could know 
Geoff without loving him, at least no one whose love was 
worth having. But you see there's the wife to be taken into 
account now." 

"You surely wouldn't doubt your reception by her? The 
mere fact of your being an old friend of her husband's would 
be sufficient to make you welcome." 

" O, Mr. Potts, Mr. Potts ! you are as innocent as a 
sucking-dove, dear Mr. Potts, though you have painted 
a decent picture ! To have known a man before his marriage 
is to be the natural enemy of his wife. However, I'll chance 
that, and go and see our Geoff." 

"So shall I," said Potts, "though I'm rather doubtful 
about my reception. You see I was with Geoff that night, 
— you know, when we met the —his wife, you know." 

" So you were. Haven't you seen her since ?" 

" Only at the wedding, and that all in a hurry— just an 
introduction ; that was all." 

" Did she seem at all confused when she recognised you ? " 

" She couldn't have recognised me, because when we 
found her she was senseless, and hadn't come-to when 
we left. But of course Geoff had told her who I was, and 
she didn't seem in the least confused." 

" Not she, if there's any truth in physiognomy," muttered 
old Bowker; "well, if she showed no annoyance at first 
meeting you, she's not likely to do so now, and you'll be 
received sweetly enough, no doubt. We may as well go 
together, eh?" 

To this proposition Mr. Potts consented with great 
alacrity, for though a leader of men in his own set, he was 
marvellously timid, silent, and ill at ease in the society 
of ladies. The mere notion of having to spend a portion of 
time, however short, in company with members of the other 
sex above the rank of Caroline, and with whom he could 
not exchange that free and pleasant baditiage of which he 
was so great a master, inflicted torture on him sufficient to 
render him an object of compassion. So on a day agreed 
upon, the artistic pair set out to pay their visit to Mrs. 
Geoffrey Ludlow. 



1 86 Land at Last. 

Their visit took place at about the time when public 
opinion in Lowbar was unsettled as to the propriety of 
knowing the Ludlows ; and the dilatoriness of some of the 
inhabitants in accepting the position of the new-comers may 
probably be ascribed to the fact of the visitors having been 
encountered in the village. It is undeniable that the 
appearance of Mr. Potts and of Mr. Bowker was not 
calculated to impress the beholder with a feeling of respect, 
or a sense of their position in society. Holding this to be 
a gala-day, Mr. Potts had extracted a bank-note from 
the stomach of the china sailor, and expended it at the 
"emporium" of an outfitter in Oxford Street, in the 
purchase of a striking, but particularly ill-fitting, suit of 
checked clothes — coat, waistcoat, and trousers to match. 
His boots, of an unyielding leather, had very thick clump 
soles, which emitted curious wheezings and groanings as he 
walked ; and his puce-coloured gloves were baggy at all 
the fingers' ends, and utterly impenetrable as regarded the 
thumbs. His white hat was a little on one side, and his 
moustaches were twisted with a ferocity which, however 
fascinating to the maid-servants at the kitchen-windows, 
failed to please the ruralising cits and citizenesses, who were 
accustomed to regard a white hat as the distinctive badge of 
card-sharpers, and a moustache as the outward and visible 
sign of swindling. Mr. Bowker had made little difference 
in his ordinary attire. He wore a loose shapeless brown 
garment which was more like a cloth dressing-gown than a 
paletot; a black waistcoat frayed at the pockets from 
constant contact with his pipe-stem, and so much too short 
that the ends of his white-cotton braces were in full view ; 
also a pair of gray trousers of the cut which had been in 
fashion when their owner was in fashion — made very full 
over the boot, and having broad leather straps. Mr. 
Bowker also wore a soft black wideawake hat, and perfumed 
the fragrant air with strong cavendish tobacco, fragments of 
which decorated his beard. The two created a sensation as 
they strode up the quiet High Street ; and when they rang 
at Elm Lodge Geoffrey's pretty servant-maid was ready to 
drop between admiration at Mr. Potts's appearance and a 
sudden apprehension that Mr. Bowker had come after the 
plate. 

She had, however little time for the indulgence of either 



What their Friends thought. 187 

feeling ; for Geoffrey, who had been expecting the arrival of 
his friends, with a degree of nervousness unintelligible to 
himself, no sooner heard the bell than he rushed out from 
his studio and received his old comrades with great 
cordiality. He shook hands heartily with Charley Potts; but 
a certain hesitation mingled with the warmth of his greeting 
of Bowker ; and his talk rattled on from broken sentence to 
broken sentence, as though he were desirous of preventing 
his friend from speaking until he himself had had his say. 

"How d'ye do, Charley? so glad to see you; and you, 
Bowker, my good old friend : it is thoroughly kind of you 
to come out here ; and — long way, you know, and out of 
your usual beat, I know. Well, so you see I've joined the 
noble army of martyrs, — not that I mean that of course ; 
but— eh, you didn't expect I would do it, did you? j 
couldn't say, like the girl in the Scotch song, 'I'm owre 
young to marry yet',' could I ? However, thank God, I 
think you'll say my wife is — what a fellow I am ! keeping 
you fellows out here in this broiling sun ; and you haven't — • 
at least you, Bowker, haven't been introduced to her. Come 
along — come in !" 

He preceded them to the drawing-room, where Margaret 
was waiting to receive them. It was a hot staring day in 
the middle of a hot staring summer. The turf was burnt 
brown; the fields spreading between Elm Lodge and 
Hampstead, usually so cool and verdant, were now arid 
wastes; the outside blinds of the house were closed to 
exclude the scorching light, and there was no sound save the 
loud chirping of grasshoppers. A great weariness was on 
Margaret that day ; she had tried to rouse herself, but found 
it impossible, so had sat all through the morning staring 
vacantly before her, busy with old memories. Between her 
past and her present life there was so little in common, that 
these memories were seldom roused by associations. The 
dull never-changing domestic day, and the pretty respecta- 
bility of Elm Lodge, did not recal the wild Parisian revels, 
the rough pleasant Bohemianism of garrison-lodgings, the 
sumptuous luxury of the Florentine villa. But there was 
something in the weather to-day— in the bright fierce glare 
of the sun, in the solemn utterly-unbroken stillness — which 
brought back to her mind one when she and Leonard and 
some others were cruising off the Devonshire coast in Tom 



1 88 Land at Last. 

Marshall's yacht ; a day on which, with scarcely a breath of 
air to be felt, they lay becalmed in Babbicombe Bay ; under 
an awning, of course, over which the men from time to time 
worked the fire-hose; and how absurdly funny Tom Marshall 

was when the ice ran short. Leonard said The gate-bell 

rang, and her husband's voice was heard in hearty welcome 
of his friends. 

In welcome of his friends ! Yes, there at least she could 
do her duty ; there she could give pleasure to her husband. 
She could not give him her love ; she had tried, and found 
it utterly impossible ; but equally impossible was it to with- 
hold from him her respect. Day by day she honoured him 
more and more ; as she watched his patient honesty, his in- 
domitable energy, his thorough helplessness ; as she learned 
— .in spite of herself as it were — more of himself; for Geoff 
had always thought one of the chiefest pleasures of matri- 
mony must be to have some one capable of receiving all 
one's confidences. As she, with a certain love of psycho- 
logical analysis possessed by some women, went through his 
character, and discovered loyalty and truth in every thought 
and every deed, she felt half angry with herself for her in- 
ability to regard him with that love which his qualities ought 
to have inspired. She had been accustomed to tell herself, 
and half-believed, that she had no conscience ; but this 
theory, which she had maintained during nearly all the 
earlier portion of her life, vanished as she learned to know 
and to appreciate her husband. She had a conscience, and 
she felt it ; under its influence she made some struggles, 
ineffectual indeed, but greater than she at one time would 
have attempted. What was it that prevented her from 
giving this man his due, her heart's love ? His appearance ? 
No ; he was not a " girl's man " certainly, not the delicious 
military vision which sets throbbing the hearts of sweet 
seventeen : by no means romantic-looking, but a thoroughly 
manly gentleman — -big, strong, and well-mannered. Had 
he been dwarfed or deformed, vulgar, dirty — and even in 
the present days of tubbing and Turkish baths, there are 
men who possess genius and are afraid it may come off in 
hot water, — had he been " common," an expressive word 
meaning something almost as bad as dirt and vulgarity, — ■ 
Margaret could have satisfied her newly-found conscience, 
or at least accounted for her feelings. But he was none of 



What their Friends thought. 189 

these, and she admitted it ; and so at the conclusion of her 
self-examination fell back, not without a feeling of semi- 
complacency, to the conviction that it was not he, but she 
herself who was in fault ; that she did not give him her heart 
simply because she had no heart to give ; that she had lived 
and loved, but that, however long she might yet live, she 
could never love again. 

These thoughts passed rapidly through her mind, not for 
the first, nor even for the hundredth time, as she sat down 
upon the sofa and took up the first book which came to 
hand, not even making a pretence of reading it, but allowing 
it to lie listlessly on her lap. Geoffrey came first, closely 
followed by Charley Potts, who advanced in a sheepish way, 
holding out his hand. Margaret smiled slightly and gave 
him her hand with no particular expression, a little dignified 
perhaps, but even that scarcely noticeable. Then Bowker, 
who had kept his keen eyes upon her from the moment he 
entered the room, and whom she had seen and examined 
while exchanging civilities with Potts, was brought forward 
by Geoffrey, and introduced as " one of my oldest and 
dearest friends." Margaret advanced as Bowker approached, 
her face flushed a little, and her eyes wore their most earnest 
expression, as she said, " I am very glad to see you, Mr. 
Bowker. I have heard of you from Geoffrey. I am sure 
we shall be very good friends." She gripped his hand and 
looked him straight in the face as she said this, and in that 
instant William Bowker divined that Margaret had heard of, 
and knew and sympathised with, the story of his life. 

She seemed tacitly to acknowledge that there was a bond 
of union between them. She was as polite as could be 
expected of her to Charley Potts ; but she addressed herself 
especially to Bowker when any point for discussion arose. 
These were not very frequent, for the conversation carried 
on was of a very ordinary kind. How they liked their new 
house, and whether they had seen much of the people of the 
neighbourhood ; how they had enjoyed their honeymoon in 
the Isle of Wight ; and trivialities of a similar character. 
Charley Potts, prevented by force of circumstances from 
indulging in his peculiar humour, and incapable from sheer 
ignorance of bearing his share of general conversation when 
a lady was present, had several times attempted to introduce 
the one subject, which, in any society, he could discuss at 



1 90 Land at Last. 

his ease, a,rt — " shop ;" but on each occasion had found his 
proposition rigorously ignored both by Margaret and Bowker, 
who seemed to consider it out of place, and who were suffi- 
ciently interested in their own talk. So Charley fell back 
upon Geoff, who, although delighted at seeing how well his 
wife was getting on with his friend, yet had sufficient kindness 
of heart to step in to Charley's rescue, and to discuss with 
him the impossibility of accounting for the high price obtained 
by Smudge; the certainty that Scumble's popularity would 
be merely evanescent ; the disgraceful favouritism displayed 
by certain men "on the council;" in short, all that kind of 
talk which is so popular and so unfailing in the simple kindly 
members of the art-world. So on throughout lunch ; and, 
indeed, until the mention of Geoffrey's pictures then in 
progress necessitated the generalising of the conversation, 
and they went away (Margaret with them) to the studio. 
Arrived within those walls, Mr. Potts, temporarily oblivious of 
the presence of a lady, became himself again. The mingled 
smell of turpentine and tobacco, the sight of the pictures 
on the easels, and of Geoff's pipe-rack on the wall, a 
general air of carelessness and discomfort, all came grate- 
fully to Mr. Potts, who opened his chest, spread out his 
arms, shook himself as does a dog just emerged from the 
water — probably in his case to get rid of any clinging vc&tige 
of respectability — and said in a very hungry tone : 

" Now, Geoff, let's have a smoke, old boy." 

" You might as well wait until you knew whether Mrs. 
Ludlow made any objection, Charley," said Bowker, in a 
low tone. 

" I beg Mrs. Ludlow's pardon," said Potts, scarlet all over; 
" I had no notion that she — " 

" Pray don't apologise, Mr. Potts ; I am thoroughly accus- 
tomed to smoke ; have been for — " 

" Yes, of course ; ever since you married Geoff you have 
been thoroughly smoke-dried," interrupted Bowker, at whom 
Margaret shot a short quick glance, half of interrogation, half 
of gratitude. 

They said no more on the smoke subject just then, but 
proceeded to a thorough examination of the picture, which 
Charley Potts pronounced " regularly stunning," and which 
Mr. Bowker criticised in a much less explosive manner. He 
praised the drawing, the painting, the general arrangement ; 



What their Friends thought. 191 

he allowed that Geoffrey was doing every thing requisite to 
obtain for himself name, fame, and wealth in the present 
day ; but he very much doubted whether that was all that 
was needed. With the French judge he would very much 
have doubted the necessity of living, if to live implied the 
abnegation of the first grand principles of art, its humanising 
and elevated influence. Bowker saw no trace of these in the 
undeniable cleverness of the Brighton Esplanade ; and 
though he was by no means sparing of his praise, his lack 
of enthusiasm, as compared with the full-flavoured ecstasy of 
Charley Potts, struck upon Margaret's ear. Shortly after- 
wards, while Geoffrey and Potts were deep in a discussion 
on colour, she turned to Mr. Bowker, and said abruptly : 

" You are not satisfied with Geoffrey's picture ?" 

He smiled somewhat grimly as he said, "Satisfied is a 
very strong word, Mrs. Ludlow. There are some of us in the 
world who have sufficient good sense not to be satisfied with 
what we do ourselves — " 

" That's true, Heaven knows," she interrupted involun- 
tarily. 

"And are consequently not particularly likely to be con- 
tent with what's done by other people. I think Geoff's 
picture good, very good of its sort ; but I don't — I candidly 
confess — like its sort. He is a man full of appreciation 
of nature, character, and sentiment ; a man who, in the ex- 
pression of his own art, is as capable of rendering poetic 
feeling as — By Jove, now why didn't he think of that subject 
that Charley Potts has got under weigh just now? That 
would have suited Geoff exactly." 

"What is it?" 

" Dora — Tennyson's Dora, you know." Margaret bowed 
in acquiescence. " There's a fine subject, if you like. 
Charley's painting it very well, so far as it goes; but he 
doesn't feel it. Now Geoff would- A man must have some- 
thing more than facile manipulation ; he must have the soul 
of a poet before he could depict the expression which must 
necessarily be on such a face. There are few who could 
understand, fewer still who could interpret to others, such 
heart-feelings of that most beautiful of Tennyson's creations 
as would undoubtedly show themselves in her face ; the 
patient endurance of unrequited love, which ' loves on through 



19 2 Land at Last. 

all ills, and loves on till she dies ;' which neither the contempt 
nor the death of its object can extinguish, but which then 
flows, in as pure, if not as strong, a current towards his 
widow and his child." 

Margaret had spoken at first, partly for the sake of saying 
something, partly because her feeling for her husband ad- 
mitted of great pride in his talent, which she thought Bowker 
had somewhat slighted. But now she was thoroughly roused, 
her eyes bright, her hair pushed back off her face, listening 
intently to him. When he ceased, she looked up strangely, 
and said: 

" Do you believe in the existence of such love ?" 

"O yes," he replied; "it's rare, of course. Especially 
rare is the faculty of loving hopelessly without the least 
chance of return — loving stedfastly and honestly as Dora 
did, I mean. With most people unrequited love turns into 
particularly bitter hatred, or into that sentimental maudlin 
state of ' broken heart,' which is so comforting to its pos- 
sessor and so wearying to his friends. But there are excep- 
tional cases where such love exists, and in these, no matter 
how fought against, it can never be extinguished." 

"I suppose you are right," said Margaret; "there must 
be such instances." 

Bowker looked hard at her, but she had risen from her 
seat and was rejoining the others. 

"What's your opinion of Mrs. Ludlow, William?" asked 
Charley Potts, as they walked away puffing their pipes in the 
calm summer night air. " Handsome woman, isn't she?" 

"Very handsome !" replied Bowker; "wondrously hand- 
some !" Then reflectively — "It's a long time since your 
William has seen any thing like that. All in all — face, figure, 
manner— wondrously perfect ! She walks like a Spaniard, 
and—" 

" Yes, Geoff's in luck ; at least I suppose he is. There's 
something about her which is not quite to my taste. I think 
I like a British element, which is not to be found in her. I 
don't know what it is — only something — well, something less 
of the duchess about her. I don't think she's quite in our 
line — is she, Bowker, old boy?" 

" That's because you're very young in the world's ways, 



Margaret and Annie. i o ? 

Charley, and also because Geoff's wife is not very like Geoff's 
sister, I'm thinking." Whereat Mr. Potts grew very red, told 
his friend to " shut up !" and changed the subject. 

" That night Mr. Bowker sat on the edge of his truckle-bed 
in his garret in Hart Street, Bloomsbury, holding in his left 
hand a faded portrait in a worn morocco case. He looked 
at it long and earnestly, while his right hand wafted aside the 
thick clouds of tobacco-smoke pouring over it from his pipe. 
He knew every line of it, every touch of colour in it ; but he 
sat gazing at it this night as though it were an entire novelty, 
studying it with a new interest. 

" Yes," said he at length, " she's very like you, my darling, 
very like you, — hair, eyes, shape, all alike ; and she seems to 
have that same clinging, undying love which you had, my 
darling— that same resistless, unquenchable, undying love. 
But that love is not for Geoff; God help him, dear fellow ! 
that love is not for Geoff!" 



CHAPTER VIII. 



MARGARET AND ANNIE. 



THE meeting between Margaret and Annie Maurice, 
which Geoffrey had so anxiously desired, had taken 
place, but could scarcely be said to have been successful in 
its result. With the best intention possible, and indeed with 
a very earnest wish that these two women should like each 
other very much, Geoff had said so much about the other to 
each, as to beget a mutual distrust and dislike before they 
became acquainted. Margaret could not be jealous of 
. Geoffrey ; her regard for him was not sufficiently acute to 
admit any such feeling. But she rebelled secretly against 
the constant encomiastic mention of Annie, and grew wearied 
at and annoyed with the perpetually-iterated stories of Miss 
Maurice's goodness with which Geoffrey regaled her. A 
good daughter ! Well, what of that ? She herself had been 
a good daughter until temptation assailed her, and probably 
Miss Maurice had never been tempted. — So simple, honest, 
and straightforward ! Yes, she detested women of that kind ; 
behind the mask of innocence and virtue they frequently 

o 



1 94 Land at Last. 

carried on the most daring schemes, Annie in her turn 
thought she had heard quite enough about Mrs. Ludlow's 
hair and eyes, and wondered Geoff had never said any thing 
about his wife's character or disposition. It was quite right, 
of course, that he, an artist, should marry a pretty person ; 
but he was essentially a man who would require something 
more than mere beauty in his life's companion, and as yet he 
had not hinted at any accomplishments which his wife pos- 
sessed. There was a something in Lord Caterham's tone, 
when speaking to and of Geoffrey Ludlow, which had often 
jarred upon Annie's ear, and which she now called to mind 
in connection with these thoughts — a certain tinge of pity 
more akin to contempt than to love. Annie had noticed 
that Caterham never assumed this tone when he was talking 
to Geoffrey about his art ; then he listened deferentially or 
argued with spirit ; but when matters of ordinary life formed 
the topics of conversation her cousin seemed to regard 
Geoffrey as a kind of large-hearted boy, very generous, very 
impulsive, but thoroughly inexperienced. Could Arthur 
Caterham's reading of Geoffrey Ludlow's character be the 
correct one ? Was he, out of his art, so weak, vacillating, 
and easily led ? and had he been caught by mere beauty of 
face ? and had he settled himself down to pass his life with 
a woman of whose disposition he knew nothing ? Annie 
Maurice put this question to herself with a full conviction 
that she would be able to answer it after her introduction to 
Mrs. Ludlow. 

About a week after Geoffrey had given his first drawing- 
lesson in St. Barnabas Square, Annie drove off one afternoon 
to Elm Lodge in Lady Beauport's barouche. She had 
begged hard to be allowed to go in a cab, but Lord Cater- 
ham would not hear of it ; and as Lady Beauport had had a 
touch of neuralgia (there were very few illnesses she permitted 
to attack her, and those only of an aristocratic nature), and 
had been confined to the house, no objection was made. 
So the barouche, with the curly-wigged coachman and silver- 
headed footmen on the box, went spinning through Camden 
and Kentish Towns, where the coachman pointed with his 
whip to rows of small houses bordering the roadside, and 
wondered what sort of people could live " in such little 'oles ■" 
and the footman expressed his belief that the denizens were 
" clerks and poor coves of that kind." The children of the 



Margaret and Annie., 195 

neighbourhood ran out in admiration of the whole turn-out, 
and especially of the footman's hair, which afforded them 
subject-matter for discussion during the evening, some con- 
tending that his head had been snowed upon ; some insisting 
that it "grew so;" and others propounding a belief that he 
was a very old man, and that his white hair was merely 
natural. When the carriage dashed up to the gates of Elm 
Lodge, the Misses Coverdale next door were, as they after- 
wards described themselves, "in a perfect twitter of excite- 
ment;" because, though good carriages and handsome 
horses were by no means rare in the pretty suburb, no one 
had as yet ventured to ask his servant to wear hair-powder ; 
and the coronet, immediately spied on the panels, had a 
wonderful effect. 

The visit was not unexpected by either Margaret or 
Geoffrey ; but the latter was at the moment closely engaged 
with Mr. Stompff, who had come up to make an apparently 
advantageous proposition ; so that when Annie Maurice was 
shown into the drawing-room, she found Margaret there 
alone. At sight of her, Annie paused in sheer admiration. 
Margaret was dressed in a light striped muslin; her hair 
taken off her face and twisted into a large roll behind ; her 
only ornaments a pair of long gold earrings. At the 
announcement of Miss Maurice's name, a slight flush came 
across her face, heightening its beauty. She rose without 
the smallest sign of hurry, grandly and calmly, and advanced 
a few paces. She saw the effect she had produced and did 
not intend that it should be lessened. St was Annie who 
spoke first, and Annie's hand was the first outstretched. 

" I must introduce myself, Mrs. Ludlow," said she, 
"though I suppose you have heard of me from your 
husband. He and I are very old friends." 

"O, Miss Maurice?" said Margaret, as though half 
doubtful to whom she was talking. " O yes ; Geoffrey has 
mentioned your name several times. Pray sit down." 

All this in the coldest tone and with the stiffest manner. 
Prejudiced originally, Margaret, in rising, had caught a 
glimpse through the blinds of the carriage, and regarded it 
as an assertion of dignity and superiority on her visitor's part, 
which must be at once counteracted. 

"I should have come to see you long before, Mrs. 

o 2 



\$6 Land at Last, 

Ludlow, but my time is not my own, as you probably know ; 
and — " 

"Yes, Mr. Ludlow told me you were Lady Beauport's 
companion." A hit at the carriage there. 

"Yes," continued Annie with perfect composure, though 
she felt the blow, "I am Lady Beauport's companion, and 
consequently not a free agent, or, as I said, I should have 
called on you long ago." 

Margaret had expected a hit in exchange for her own, 
which she saw had taken effect. A little mollified by her 
adversary's tolerance, she said : 

" I should have been very glad to see you, Miss Maurice ; 
and in saying so I pay no compliment ; for I should have 
been very glad to see any body to break this fearful 
monotony." 

"You find it dull here?" 

" I find it dreary in the extreme." 

" And I was only thinking how perfectly charming it is. 
This sense of thorough quiet is of all things the most 
pleasant to me. It reminds me of the place where the 
happiest days in my life have been passed; and now, 
after the fever and excitement of London, it seems 
doubly grateful. But perhaps you have beeri accustomed to 
gaiety." 

" Yes ; at least, if not to gaiety, to excitement ; to having 
every hour of the day filled up with something to do ; to 
finding the time flown before I scarcely knew it had arrived, 
instead of watching the clock and wondering that it was not 
later in the day." 

" Ah, then of course you feel the change very greatly at 
first; but I think you will find it wear off. One's views of life 
alter so after we have tried the new phase for a little time. 
It seems strange my speaking to you in this way, Mrs. 
Ludlow; but I have had a certain amount of experience. 
There was my own dear home ; and then I lived with my 
uncle at a little country parsonage, and kept house for him ; 
and then I became—Lady Beauport's companion." 

A bright red patch burned on Margaret's cheek as Annie 
said these words. Was it shame ? Was the quiet earnestness, 
the simple courtesy and candour of this frank, bright-eyed girl 
getting over her ? 



Margaret and Annie. 197 

"That was very difficult at first, I confess," Annie 
continued; "every thing was so strange to me, just as it 
may be to you here, but I had come from the quietude to 
the gaiety ; and I thought at one time it would be impossible 
for me to continue there. But I held on, and I manage to 
get on quite comfortably now. They are all very kind to 
me ; and the sight of Mr. Ludlow occasionally insures my 
never forgetting the old days." 

" It would be strange if they were not kind to you," said 
Margaret, looking fixedly at her. " I understand now what 
Geoffrey has told me about you. We shall be friends, shall 
we not?" suddenly extending her hand. 

" The very best of friends !" said Annie, returning the 
pressure; "and, dear Mrs. Ludlow, you will soon get over 
this feeling of dulness. These horrible household duties, 
which are so annoying at first, become a regular part of the 
days business, and, unconsciously to ourselves, we owe a 
great deal to them for helping us through the day. And 
then you must come out with me whenever I can get the 
carriage, — O, I've brought Lady Beauport's card, and she is 
coming herself as soon as she gets out again, — and we'll go 
for a drive in the Park. I can quite picture to myself the 
sensation you would make." 

Margaret smiled — a strange hard smile — but said nothing. 

"And then you must be fond of reading; and I don't 
know whether Mr. Ludlow has changed, but there was 
nothing he used to like so much as being read to while he 
was at work. Whenever he came to the Priory, papa and I 
used to sit in the little room where he painted and take it in 
turns to read to him. I daresay he hasn't liked to ask you, 
fearing it might bore you ; and you haven't liked to suggest 
it, from an idea that you might interrupt his work." 

" O yes, I've no doubt it will come right," said Margaret, 
indisposed to enter into detail ; " and I know I can rely on 
your help ; only one thing — don't mention what I have said 
to Geoffrey, please; it might annoy him; and he is so good, 
that I would not do that for the world." 

" He will not hear a word of it from me. It would annoy 
him dreadfully, I know. He is so thoroughly wrapped up in 
you, that to think you were not completely happy would 
cause him great pain. Yes, he is good. Papa used to say 
he did not know so good a man, and — " 



198 Land at Last. 

The door opened as she spoke, and Geoff entered the 
room. His eyes brightened as he saw the two women 
together in close conversation; and he said with a gay 
laugh : 

" Well, little Annie, you've managed to find us out, have 
you? — come away from the marble halls, and brought 
' vassals and serfs by your side,' and all the king's horses and 
all the king's men, up to our little hut. And you introduced 
yourself to Margaret, and you're beginning to understand 
one another, eh ?" 

"I think we understand each other perfectly; and what 
nonsense you talk about the vassals and king's horses, and 
all that ! They would make me have the carriage ; and no 
one but a horrible democrat like you would see any harm in 
using it." 

"Democrat? — I?— ^-the stanchest supporter of our aristo- 
cracy and our old institutions. I intend to have a card 
printed, with ' Instruction in drawing to the youthful nobility 
and gentry. References kindly permitted to the Earl of B., 
Lord C, &c.' — Well, my child," turning to Margaret, " you'll 
think your husband more venerable than ever after seeing 
this young lady ; and remembering that he used to nurse 
her in his arms." 

" I have been telling Miss Maurice that now I have seen 
her, I can fully understand all you have said about her ; and 
she has promised to come and see me often, and to take me 
out with her." 

"That's all right," said Geoffrey; "nothing will please 
me better. — It's dull for her here, Annie, all alone ; and I'm 
tied to my easel all day." 

"O, that will be all right, and we shall get on capitally 
together, shaH we not, Annie?" 

And the women kissed one another, and followed Geoffrey 
into the garden. 

That was the brightest afternoon Margaret had spent for 
many a day. The carriage was dismissed to the inn, there 
io be the admiration of the ostlers and idlers; while the 
coachman and footman, after beer, condescended to play 
skittles and to receive the undisguised compliments of the 
village boys. Geoffrey went back to his work; and 
Margaret and Annie had a long talk, in which, though ii. 
was not very serious, Annie's good sense perpetually made 



Margaret and Annie. 199 

itself felt, and at the end of which Margaret felt calmer, 
happier, and more hopeful than she had felt since her 
marriage. After the carriage had driven away, she sat 
pondering over all that had been said. This, then, was the 
Miss Maurice against whom she had conceived such a 
prejudice, and whom "she was sure she could never like?" 
And now, here, at their very first meeting, she had given her 
her confidence, and listened to her as though she had been 
her sister ! What a calm quiet winning way she had ! with 
what thorough good sense she talked ! Margaret had 
expected to find her a prim old-maidish kind of person, 
younger, of course, but very much of the same type as the 
Miss Coverdales next door, utterly different from the fresh 
pretty-looking girl full of spirits and cheerfulness. How 
admirably she would have suited Geoff as a wife ! and yet what 
was there in her that she (Margaret) could not acquire ? It 
all rested with herself; her husband's heart was hers, firmly 
and undoubtedly, and she only needed to look her lot 
resolutely in the face, to conform to the ordinary domestic 
routine, as Annie had suggested, and all would be well. O, 
if she could but lay the ghosts of that past which haunted 
her so incessantly, if she could but forget him, and all the 
associations connected with him, her life might yet be 
thoroughly happy ! 

And Annie, what did she think of her new acquaintance ? 
Whatever her sentiments were, she kept them to herself, 
merely saying in answer to questions that Mrs. Geoffrey 
Ludlow was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen ; 
that she could say with perfect truth and in all sincerity; but 
as to the rest, she did not know — she could scarcely make 
up her mind. During the first five minutes of their interview 
she hated her, at least regarded her with that feeling which 
Annie imagined was hate, but which was really only a mild 
dislike. There were few women, Annie supposed, who 
could in cold blood, and without the slightest provocation, 
have committed such an outrage as that taunt about her 
position in Lady Beauport's household; but then again 
there were few who would have so promptly though silently 
acknowledged the fault and endeavoured to make reparation 
for it. How openly she spoke ! how bitterly she bemoaned 
the dulness of her life ! That did not argue well for 
Geoffrey's happiness ; but doubtless Mrs. Ludlow had reason 



2oo Land at Last. 

to feel dull, as have most brides taken from their home and 
friends, and left to spend the day by themselves ; but if she 
had really loved her husband, she would have hesitated 
before thus complaining to a stranger — would for his sake 
have either endeavoured to throw some explanatory gloss 
over the subject, or remained silent about it. She did not 
seem, so far as Annie saw, to have made any attempt to 
please her husband, or indeed to care to do so. How 
different she was from what Annie had expected ! how 
different from all her previous experience of young married 
women, who indeed generally "gushed" dreadfully, and 
were painfully extravagant in their laudations of their hus- 
bands when they were absent, and in their connubialities 
when they were present. Geoffrey's large eloquent eyes 
had melted into tenderness as he looked at her ; but she had 
not returned the glance, had not interchanged with him one 
term of endearment, one chance pressure of the hand. 
What did it all mean? What was that past gaiety and 
excitement to which she said she had been accustomed ? 
What were her antecedents ? In the whole of her long talk 
with Annie, Margaret had spoken always of the future, 
never of the past. It was of what she should do that she 
asked counsel ; never mentioning what she had done ; never 
alluding to any person, place, or circumstance connected 
with her existence previously to her having become Geoffrey 
Ludlow's wife. What were her antecedents ? Once or 
twice during their talk she had used an odd word, a strange 
phrase, which grated on Annie's ear; but her manner was 
that of a well-bred gentlewoman ; and in all the outward 
and visible signs of race, she might have been the purest 
aristocrat. 

Meantime her beauty was undeniable, was overwhelming. 
Such hair and eyes Annie had dreamed of, but had never 
seen. She raved about them until Caterham declared she 
must puzzle her brain to find some excuse for his going to 
Elm Lodge to see this wonderful woman. She described 
Margaret to Lady Beauport, who was good enough to 
express a desire to see "the young person." She mentioned 
her to Algy Barford, who listened and then said, "Nice! 
nice ! Caterham, dear old boy ! you and I will take our 
slates and go up to — what's the name of the place? — to 
learn drawing. Must learn on slates, dear boy. Don't you 



firargaret and Annie. 201 

recollect the house of our childhood with the singular 
perspective and an enormous amount of smoke, like wool, 
coming out of the chimneys? Must have been a brewery 
by the amount of smoke, by Jove ! And the man in the 
cocked-hat, with no stomach to speak of, and both his 
arms very thin, with round blobs at the end growing out of 
one side. Delicious reminiscences of one's childhood, by 
Jove !" 

And then Annie took to sketching after-memory portrai 1 ,; 
of Margaret, first mere pencil outlines, then more elaborate 
shaded attempts, and finally a water-colour reminiscence, 
which was any thing but bad. This she showed to Lord 
Caterham, who was immensely pleased with it, and who 
insisted that Barford should see it. So one morning when 
that pleasantest of laughing philosophers was smoking his 
after-breakfast cigar (at about noon) in Caterham's room, 
mooning about amongst the nick-nacks, and trotting out his 
little scraps of news in his own odd quaint fashion, Annie, 
who had heard from Stephens of his arrival, came in, 
bringing the portrait with her. 

"Enter, Miss Maurice!" said Algy; "always welcome, 
but more especially welcome when she brings some delicious 
little novelty, such as I see she now holds under her arm. 
What would the world be without novelty? — Shakespeare. 
At least, if that delightful person did not make that remark, 
it was simply because he forgot it ; for it's just one of those 
sort of things which he put so nicely. And what is Miss 
Maurice's novelty?" 

" O ! it's no novelty at all, Mr. Barford. Only a sketch 
of Mrs. Geoffrey Ludlow, of whom I spoke to you the other 
day. You recollect?" 

" Recollect ! the Muse of painting ! Terps — Clio — no 
matter ! a charming person from whom we were to have 
instruction in drawing, and who lives at some utterly 
unsearchable place ! Of course I recollect ! And you have 
a sketch of her there ? Now, my dear Miss Maurice, don't 
keep me in suspense any longer, but let me look at it at 
once." But when the sketch was unrolled and placed 
before him, it had the very singular effect of reducing Algy 
Barford to a state of quietude. Beyond giving one long 
whistle he never uttered a sound, but sat with parted lips 
and uplifted eyebrows gazing at the picture for full five 



202 Land at Last. 

minutes. Then he said, "This is like, of course, Miss 
Maurice ?" 

"Well, I really think I may say it is. It is far inferior to 
the original in beauty,, of course ; but I think I have 
preserved her most delicate features." 

"Just so. Her hair is of that peculiar colour, and her 
eyes a curious violet, eh?" 

"Yes." 

" This sketch gives one the notion of a tall woman with a 
full figure." 

"Yes; she is taller than I, and her figure is thoroughly 
rounded and graceful." 

" Ye-es ; a very charming sketch, Miss Maurice ; and your 
friend must be very lovely if she at all resembles it." 

Shortly after, when Mr. Algy Barford had taken his leave, 
he stopped on the flags in St. Barnabas Square, thus solilo- 
quising : " All right, my dear old boy, my dear old Algy ! it's 
coming on fast — a little sooner than you thought ; but that's 
no matter. Colney Hatch, my dear boy, and a padded 
room looking out over the railway. That's it ; that's your 
hotel, dear boy ! If you ever drank, it might be del. trem., 
and would pass off; but you don't. No, no; to see twice 
within six months, first the woman herself, and then the 
portrait of the woman — just married and known to credible 
witnesses — whom you have firmly believed to be lying in 
Kensal Green ! Colney Hatch, dear old boy ; that is the 
apartment, and nothing else !" 



CHAPTER IX. 

MR. AMPTHILL'S WILL. 

THE acquaintance between Margaret and Annie, which 
commenced so auspiciously, scarcely ripened into 
intimacy. When Lady Beauport's neuralgia passed away, — 
and her convalescence was much hurried by the near ap- 
proach of a specially-grand entertainment given in honour 
of certain Serene Transparencies then visiting London, — 
she found that she could not spare Miss Maurice to go 
so long a distance, to be absent from her and her work 
for such a length of time. As to calling at Elm Lodge 



Mr. AmpthiWs Will. 203 

in person, Lady Beauport never gave the project another 
thought. With the neuralgia had passed away her desire 
to see that " pretty young person," Mrs. Geoffrey Ludlow ; 
and in sending her card by Annie, Lady Beauport thought 
she had more than fulfilled any promises and vows of 
politeness which might have been made by her son in her 
name. 

Lord Caterham had driven out once to Elm Lodge with 
Annie, and had been introduced to Margaret, whom he 
admired very much, but about whom he shook his head 
alarmingly when he and Annie were driving towards home. 
"That's an unhappy woman!" he said; "an unhappy 
woman, with something on her mind — something which she 
does not give way to and groan about, but against which 
she frets and fights and struggles with as with a chain. 
When she's not spoken to, when she's not supposed to 
be en evidence, there's a strange, half-weary, half-savage gleam 
in those wondrous eyes, such as I have noticed only once 
before, and then among the patients of a lunatic asylum. 
There's evidently something strange in the history of that 
marriage. Did you notice Ludlow's devotion to her, how 
he watched her every movement ? Did you see what hard 
work it was for her to keep up with the conversation, not 
from want of power, — for, from one or two things she said, 
I should imagine her to be a naturally clever as well as 
an educated woman, — but from want of will ? How utterly 
worn and wearied and distraite she looked, standing by 
us in Ludlow's studio, while we talked about his pictures, 
and how she only seemed to rouse into life when I compared 
that Brighton Esplanade with the Drive in the Park, and 
talked about some of the frequenters of each. She listened 
to all the fashionable nonsense as eagerly as any country 

miss, and yet She's a strange study, that woman, 

Annie. I shall take an early opportunity of driving out 
to see her again ; but I'm glad that the distance will prevent 
her being very intimate with you." 

The opportunity of repeating his visit did not, however, 
speedily occur. The fierce neuralgic headaches from which 
Lord Caterham suffered had become much more frequent of 
late, and worse in their effect. After hours of actual torture, 
unable to raise his head or scarcely to lift his eyes, he would 
fall into a state of prostration, which lasted two or three 



304 Land at Last. 

days. In this state he would be dressed by his servant 
and carried to his sofa, where he would lie with half-closed 
eyes dreaming the time away, comparatively happy in being 
free from pain, quite happy if, as frequently happened, on 
looking up he saw Annie Maurice moving noiselessly about 
the room dusting his books, arranging his desk, bringing 
fresh flowers for his glasses. Looking round at him from 
time to time, and finding he had noticed her presence, 
she would lay her finger on her lip enjoining silence, and 
then refresh his burning forehead and hands with eau-de- 
cologne, turn and smooth his pillows, and wheel his sofa 
to a cooler position. On the second day after an attack 
she would read to him for hours in her clear musical voice 
from his favourite authors ; or, if she found him able to bear 
it, would sit down at the cabinet-piano, which he had 
bought expressly for her, and sing to him the songs he 
loved so well — quiet English ballads, sparkling little French 
chansons, and some of the most pathetic music of the Italian 
operas ; but every thing for his taste must be soft and low : 
all roulades and execution, all the fireworks of music, he 
held in utter detestation. 

Then Annie would be called away to write notes for 
Lady Beauport, or to go out with her or for her, and 
Caterham would be left alone again. Pleasanter his thoughts 
now : there were the flowers she had gathered and placed 
close by him, the books she had read from, the ivory keys 
which her dear fingers had so recently touched ! Her 
cheerful voice still rung in his ear, the touch of her hand 
seemed yet to linger on his forehead. O angel of light and 
almost of hope to this wretched frame, O sole realisation 
of womanly love and tenderness and sweet sympathy to this 
crushed spirit, wilt thou ever know it all ? Yes, he felt that 
there would come a time, and that without long delay, 
when he should be able to tell her all the secret longings 
of his soul, to tell her in a few short words, and then — ay, 
then ! 

Meanwhile it was pleasant to lie in a half-dreamy state, 
thinking of her, picturing her to his fancy. He would lie 
on that sofa, his poor warped useless limbs stretched out 
before him, but hidden from his sight by a light silk couvnite 
of Annie's embroidering, his eyes closed, his whole frame 
n a state of repose. Through the double windows came 



Mr. Anif thills Mill. 205 

deadened sounds of the world outside — the roll of carriages, 
the clanging of knockers, the busy hum of life. From the 
Square-garden came the glad voices of children, and now 
and then — solitary fragment of rusticity — the sound of the 
Square-gardener whetting his scythe. And Caterham lay 
day by day dreaming through it all, unroused even by the 
repetition of Czerny's pianoforte-exercises by the children 
in the next house ; dreaming of his past, his present, and 
his future. Dreaming of the old farmhouse where they 
had sent him when a child to try and get strength — the 
quaint red-faced old house with its gable ends and mullioned 
windows, and its eternal and omnipresent smell of apples; 
of the sluggish black pool where the cattle stood knee-deep ; 
the names of the fields — the home-croft, and the lea pasture, 
and the forty acres ; the harvest-home, and the songs that 
they sung then, and to which he had listened in wonder 
sitting on the farmer's knee. He had not thought of all 
this from that day forth ; but he remembered it vividly 
now, and could almost hear the loud ticking of the fanner's 
silver watch which fitted so tightly into his fob. The 
lodgings at Brighton, where he went with some old lady, 
never recollected but in connection with that one occasion, 
and called Miss Macraw, — the little lodgings with the bow- 
windowed room looking sideways over the sea ; the happi- 
ness of that time, when the old lady perpetually talked to 
and amused him, when he was not left alone as he was 
at home, and when he had such delicious tea-cakes which 
he toasted for himself. The doctors who came to see him 
there ; one a tall white-haired old man in a long black coat 
reaching to his heels, and another a jolly bald-headed man, 
who, they said, was surgeon to the King. The King — ay, 
he had seen him too, a red-faced man in a blue coat, 
walking in the Pavilion Gardens. Dreaming of the private 
tutor, a master at Charter House, who came on Wednesday 
and Saturday afternoons, and who struggled so hard and 
with such little success to conceal his hatred to Homer, 
Virgil, and the other classic poets, and his longing to be 
;n the cricket-field, on the river, any where, to shake off 
that horrible conventional toil of tutorship, and to be a 
man and not a teaching-machine. Other recollections he 
had, of Lionel's pony and Lionel's Eton school-fellows, 



ao6 Land at Last. 

who came to see him in the holidays, and who stared in 
mute wonder at his wheel-chair and his poor crippled limbs. 
Recollections of his father and mother passing down the 
staircase in full dress on their way to some court-ball, 
and of his hearing the servants say what a noble-looking 
man his father was, and what a pity that Master Lionel 
had not been the eldest son. Recollections of the utter 
blankness of his life until she came — ah, until she came ! 
The past faded away, and the present dawned. She was 
there, his star, his hope, his love ! He was still a cripple, 
maimed and blighted ; still worse than an invalid, the prey 
of acute and torturing disease ; but he would be content — 
content to remain even as he was, so that he could have her 
near him, could see her, hear her voice, touch her hand. 
But that could not be. She would marry, would leave him, 
and then — ah then ! — Let that future which he believed 
to be close upon him come at once. Until he had known 
hope, his life, though blank enough, had been supportable ; 
now hope had fled ; " the sooner it's over the sooner to 
sleep." Let there be an end of it ! 

There were but few days that Algy Barford did not 
come; bright, airy, and cheerful, bringing sunshine into 
the sick-room ; never noisy or obtrusive, always taking a 
cheery view of affairs, and never failing to tell the invalid 
that he looked infinitely better than the last time he had 
seen him, and that this illness was "evidently a kind of 
clearing-up shower before the storm, dear old boy," and 
was the precursor of such excellent health as he had never 
had before. Lord Catefham, of course, never believed any 
of this; he had an internal monitor which told him very 
different truths ; but he knew the feelings which prompted 
Algy Barford's hopeful predictions, and no man's visits were 
so agreeable to Caterham as were Algy's. 

One day he came in earlier than usual, and looking less 
serenely happy than his wont. Lord Caterham, lying on 
his sofa, observed this, but said nothing, waiting until Algy 
should allude to it, as he was certain to do, for he had not 
the smallest power of reticence. 

" Caterham, my dear old boy, how goes it this morning ? 
I am seedy, my friend ! The sage counsel given by the 
convivial bagman, that the evening's diversion should bear 



Mr. AmfithilFs Will. 207 

the morning's reflection, has not been followed by me. 
Does the cognac live in its usual corner, and is there yet 
soda-water in the land?" 

"You'll find both in the sideboard, Algy. What were 
you doing last night to render them necessary ?" 

" Last night, my dear Caterham, I did what England 
expected me to do — my duty, and a most horrible nuisance 
that doing one's duty is. I dined with an old fellow named 
Huskisson, a friend of my governor's, who nearly poisoned 
me with bad wine. The wine, sir, was simply infamous ; 
but it was a very hot night, and I was dreadfully thirsty, 
so what could I do but drink a great deal of it ? I had 
some very fiery sherry with my soup, and some hock. 
Yes; 'nor did my drooping memory shun the foaming 
grape of eastern France ;' only this was the foaming goose- 
berry of Fulham Fields. And old Huskisson, with great 
pomp, told his butler to bring ' the Hermitage.' What an 
awful swindle !" 

"What was it like?" 

" Well, dear old boy, minds innocent and quiet may take 
that for a Hermitage if they like ; but I, who have drunk 
as much wine, good and bad, as most men, immediately 
recognised the familiar Beaujolais, which we get at the club 
for a shilling a pint. So that altogether I'm very nearly 
poisoned ; and I think I shouldn't have come out if I had 
not wanted to see you particularly." 

"What is it, Algy? Some of that tremendously im- 
portant business which always takes up so much of your 
time?" 

" No, no ; now you're chaffing, Caterham. Ton my word 
I really do a great deal in the course of the day, walking 
about, and talking to fellows, and that sort of thing : there 
are very few fellows who think what a lot I get through ; 
but I know myself." 

" Do you ? then you've learned a great thing — ' know 
thyself,' one of the great secrets of life;" and Caterham 
sighed. 

"Yes, dear old boy," said Algy; '"know thyself, but 
never introduce a friend ;' that I believe to be sterling 
philosophy. This is a confoundedly back-slapping age ; 
every body is a deuced sight too fond of every body else ; 



208 Land at Last. 

there is an amount of philanthropy about which is quite 
terrible." 

"Yes, and you're about the largest-hearted and most 
genial philanthropist -in the world ; you know you are." 

"I, dear old boy? I am Richard Crookback; I am the 
uncle of the Babes in the Wood ; I am Timon the Tartar of 
Athens, or whatever his name was ; I am a ruthless hater 
of all my species, when I have the vin triste, as I have this 
morning. O, that reminds me — the business I came to see 
you about. What a fellow you are, Caterham ! always 
putting things out of fellows' heads ! " 

"Well, what is it now?" 

"Why, old Ampthill is dead at last. Died last night; 
his man told my man this morning." 

"Well, what then?" 

"What then? Why, don't you recollect what we talked 
about? about his leaving his money to dear old Lionel?" 

"Yes," said Caterham, looking grave, " I recollect that." 

" I wonder whether any good came of it ? It would 
be a tremendously jolly thing to get dear old Lionel back, 
with plenty of money, and in his old position, wouldn't it ?" 

"Look here, my dear Algy," said Lord Caterham; "let 
us understand each other once for all on this point. You 
and I are of course likely to differ materially on such 
a subject. You are a man of the world, going constantly 
into the world, with your own admirable good sense in- 
fluenced by and impressed with the opinions of society. 
Society, as you tell me, is pleased to think my brother's — 
well, crime — -there's no other word ! — my brother's crime 
a venial one, and will be content to receive him back again, 
and to instal him in his former position, if he comes back 
prepared to sacrifice to Society by spending his time and 
money on it !" 

"Pardon me, my dear old Caterham, — just two words!" 
interrupted Algy. "Society — people, you know, I mean- 
would shake their heads at poor old Lionel, and wouldn't 
have him back perhaps, and all that sort of thing, if they 
knew exactly what he'd done. But they don't. It's been 
kept wonderfully quiet, poor dear old fellow." 

"That may or may not be; at all events, such are 
Society's views, are they not ?" Barford inclined his head. 



Mr. Ampthill's Will. 209 

" Now, you see, mine are entirely different. This sofa, 
the bed in the next room, that wheel-chair, form my world j 
and these," pointing to his bookshelves, "my society. There 
is no one else on earth to whom I would say this ; but you 
know that what I say is true. Lionel Brakespere never was 
a brother to me, never had the slightest affection or regard 
for me, never had the slightest patience with me. As a 
boy, he used to mock at my deformity ; as a man, he has 
perseveringly scorned me, and scarcely troubled himself 
to hide his anxiety for my death, that he might be Lord 
Beauport's heir — " 

" Caterham ! I say, my dear, dear old boy Arthur—" and 
Algy Barford put one hand on the back of Lord Caterham's 
chair, and rubbed his own eyes very hard with the other. 

'' You know it, Algy, old friend. He did all this ; and 
God knows I tried to love him through it all, and think 
I succeeded. All his scorn, all his insult, all his want of 
affection, I forgave. When he committed the forgery which 
forced him to fly the country, I tried to intercede with 
my father ; for I knew the awful strait to which Lionel must 
have been reduced before he committed such an act : but 
when I read his letter, which you brought me, and the 
contents of which it said you knew, I recognised at last 
that Lionel was a thoroughly heartless scoundrel, and I 
thanked God that there was no chance of his further dis- 
gracing our name in a place where it had been known 
and respected. So you now see, Algy, why I am not en- 
chanted at the idea of his coming back to us." 

''Of course, of course, I understand you, dear fellow; 
and — hem ! — confoundedly husky ; that filthy wine of old 
Huskisson's ! better in a minute — there !" and Algy cleared 
his throat and rubbed his eyes again. " About that letter, 
dear old boy ! I was going to speak to you two or three 
times about that. Most mysterious circumstance, by Jove, 
sir ! The fact is that — " 

He was interrupted by the opening of the door and 
the entrance of Stephens, Lord Caterham's servant, who 
said that Lady Beauport would be glad to know if his 
master could receive her. 

It was a bad day for Caterham to receive any one except 
his most intimate friends, and assuredly his mother was not 
included in that category. He was any thing but well 

P 



2io Land at Last. 

bodily, and the conversation about Lionel had thoroughly 
unstrung his nerves ; so that he was just about to say he 
must ask for a postponement of the visit, when Stephens 
said, " Pier ladyship asked me if Mr. Barford wasn't here, 
my lord, and seemed particularly anxious to see him." 
Lord Caterham felt the colour flush in his cheeks as the 
-.ause of his mother's visit was thus innocently explained by 
Stephens ; but the moment after he smiled, and sent to beg 
that she would come whenever she pleased. 

In a very few minutes Lady Beauport sailed into the room, 
and, after shaking hands with Algy Barford in, for her, quite 
a cordial manner, she touched her son's forehead with her 
lips and dropped into the chair which Stephens had placed 
for her near the sofa. 

" How are you, Arthur, to day ?" she commenced. " You 
are looking quite rosy and well, I declare. I am always 
obliged to come myself when I want to know about your 
health; for they bring me the most preposterous reports. 
That man of yours is a dreadful kill-joy, and seems to have 
inoculated the whole household with his melancholy, where 
you are concerned. Even Miss Maurice, who is really quite 
a cheerful person, and quite pleasant to have about one, — 
equable spirits, and that sort of thing, you know, Mr. Barford; 
so much more agreeable than those moping creatures who 
are always thinking about their families and their fortunes, 
you know, — even Miss Maurice can scarcely be trusted for 
what I call a reliable report of Caterham." 

" It's the interest we take in him, dear Lady Beauport, 
that keeps us constantly on the qui vive. He's such a 
tremendously lovable old fellow, that we're all specially 
careful about him;" and Algy's hand went round to the 
back of Caterham's sofa and his eyes glistened as before. 

" Of course," said Lady Beauport, still in her hard dry 
voice. " With care, every thing may be done. There's 
Alice Wentworth, Lady Broughton's grand-daughter, was sent 
away in the autumn to Torquay, and they all declared she 
could not live. And I saw her last night at the French 
embassy, well and strong, and dancing away as hard as any 
girl in the room. It's a great pity you couldn't have gone to 
the embassy last night, Arthur ; you'd have enjoyed it very 
much." 

" Do you think so, mother ?" said Caterham with a sad 



Mr. AnipihiU's Will. 211 

smile. " I scarcely think it would have amused me, or that 
they would have cared much to have me there." 

" O, I don't know ; the Duchess de St. Lazare asked after 
you very kindly, and so did the Viscornte, who' is — " and 
Lady Beauport stopped short. 

'■ Yes, I know — who is a cripple also," said Caterham 
quietly. " But he is only lame ; he can get about by himself. 
But if I had gone, I should have wanted Algy here to carry 
me on his back." 

" Gad, dear old boy, if carrying you on my back would do 
you any good, or help you to get about to any place you 
wanted to go to, I'd do it fast enough ; give you a regular 
Derby canter over any course you like to name." 

" I know you would, Algy, old friend. You see every one 
is very kind, and I am doing very well indeed, though I'm 
scarcely in condition for a ball at the French embassy. — By 
the way, mother, did you not want to speak to Barford about 
something ?" 

" I did, indeed," said Lady Beauport. " I have heard just 
now, Mr. Barford, that old Mr. Ampthill died last night?" 

" Perfectly true, Lady Beauport. I myself had the same 
information." 

" But you heard nothing further ?" 

" Nothing at all, except that the poor old gentleman, after 
a curious eccentric life, made a quiet commonplace end, 
dying peacefully and happily." 

" Yes, yes ; but you heard nothing about the way in which 
his property is left, I suppose?" 

" Not one syllable. He was very wealthy, was he not?" 

" My husband says that the Boxwood property was worth 
from twelve to fifteen thousand a-year ; but I imagine this is 
rather an under-estimate. I wonder whether there is any 
chance for — what I talked to you about the other day." 

" Impossible to say, dear Lady Beauport," said Algy, with 
an awkward glance at Caterham, which Lady Beauport 
observed. 

"O, you needn't mind Caterham one bit, Mr. Barford. — 
Any thing which would do good to poor Lionel I'm sure 
you'd be glad of, wouldn't you, Arthur ?" 

" Any thing that would do him good, yes." 

" Of course ; and to be Mr. Ampthill's heir would do him 
a great deal of good. It is that Mr. Barford and I are dis- 



e 1 2 Land at Last. 

cussing. Mr. Barford was good enough to speak to me some 
time ago, when it was first expected that Mr. Ampthill's 
illness would prove dangerous, and to suggest that, as poor 
Lionel had always been a favourite with the old gentleman, 
something might be done for him, perhaps, there being so 
few relations. I spoke to your father, who called two or 
three times in Curzon Street, and always found Mr. Ampthill 
very civil and polite, but he never mentioned Lionel's 
name. 

"That did not look particularly satisfactory, did it?" 
asked Algy. 

" Well, it would have looked bad in any one else ; but 
with such an extremely eccentric person as Mr. Ampthill, I 
really cannot say I think so. He was just one of those 
oddities who would carefully refrain from mentioning the 
person about whom their thoughts were most occupied. — I 
cannot talk to your father about this matter, Arthur ; he is 
so dreadfully set against poor Lionel, that he will not listen 
to a word. — But I need not tell you, Mr. Barford, I myself 
am horribly anxious." 

Perfectly appreciating Lord Beauport's anger ; conscious 
that it was fully shared by Caterham ; with tender recollections 
of Lionel, whom he had known from childhood ; and with a 
desire to say something pleasant to Lady Beauport, all 
Algy Barford could ejaculate was, "Of course, of course." 

" I hear that old Mr. Trivett the lawyer was with him two 
or three times about a month ago, which looks as if he had 
been making his will. I met Mr. Trivett at the Dunsinanes 
in the autumn, and at Beauport's request was civil to him. 
I would not mind asking him to dine here one day this 
week, if I thought it would be of any use." 

Caterham looked very grave ; but Algy Barford gave a 
great laugh, and seemed immensely amused. " How do you 
mean ' of any use,' Lady Beauport ? You don't think you 
would get any information out of old Trivett, do you ? He's 
the deadest hand at a secret in the world. He never lets 
out any thing. If you ask him what it is o'clock, you have 
to dig the information out of him with a ripping-chisel. O, 
no ; it's not the smallest use trying to learn anything from 
Mr. Trivett." 

" Is there, then, no means of finding out what the will 
contains ?" 



Mr. AmpthilVs Will. 213 

" No, mother," interrupted Caterham ; " none at all. You 
must wait until the will is read, after the funeral ; or perhaps 
till you see a resume of it in the illustrated papers,." 

" You are very odd, Arthur," said Lady Beauport ; " really 
sometimes you would seem to have forgotten the usages of 
society. — I appeal to you, Mr. Barford. Is what Lord 
Caterham says correct ? Is there no other way of learning 
what I want to know ?" 

" Dear Lady Beauport, I fear there is none." 

" Very well, then ; I must be patient and wait. But 
there's no harm in speculating how the money could be left. 
Who did Mr. Ampthill know now ? There was Mrs. Macraw, 
widow of a dissenting minister, who used to read to him ; 
and there was his physician, Sir Charles Dumfunk : I shouldn't 
wonder if he had a legacy." 

" And there was Algernon Barford, commonly known as 
the Honourable Algernon Barford, who used to dine with the 
old gentleman half-a-dozen times every season, and who had 
the honour of being called a very good fellow by him." 

" O, Algy, I hope he has left you his fortune," said Cater- 
ham warmly. " There's no one in the world would spend 
it to better purpose." 

"Well," said Lady Beauport, "I will leave you now. — I 
know I may depend upon you, Mr. Barford, to give me the 
very first news on this important subject." 

Algy Barford bowed, rose, and opened the door to let 
Lady Beauport pass out. As she walked by him, she gave 
him a look which made him follow her and close the door 
behind him. 

" I didn't like to say any thing before Caterham," she said, 
" who is, you know, very odd and queer, and seems to have 
taken quite a singular view of poor Lionel's conduct. But the 
fact is, that, after the last time you spoke to me, I — I thought 
it best to write to Lionel, to tell him that — " and she 
hesitated. 

" To tell him what, Lady Beauport ? " asked Algy, re- 
solutely determined not to help her in the least. 

" To tell him to come back to us — to me — to his mother!" 
said Lady Beauport, with a sudden access of passion. " I 
cannot live any longer without my darling son ! I have told 
Beauport this. What does it signify that he has been unfor- 
tunate — wicked if you will ! How many others have been 



a 14 Land at Last. 

the same ! And our influence could get him something 
somewhere, even if this inheritance should not be his. O 
my God ! only to see him again ! My darling boy ! my own 
darling handsome boy !" 

Ah, how many years since Gertrude, Countess of Beauport, 
had allowed real, natural, hot, blinding tears to course down 
her cheeks ! The society people, who only knew her as the 
calmest, most collected, most imperious woman amongst 
them, would hardly recognise this palpitating frame, those 
tear-blurred features. The sight completely finishes Algy 
Barford, already very much upset by the news which Lady 
Beauport has communicated, and he can only px offer a seat, 
and suggest that he should fetch a glass of sherry. Lady 
Beauport, her burst of passion over, recovers all her usual 
dignity, presses Algy's hand, lays her finger on her lip to 
enjoin silence, and sails along as unbending as before. Algy 
Barford, still dazed by the tidings he has heard, goes back to 
Caterham's room, to find his friend lying with his eyes half- 
closed, meditating over the recent discussion. Caterham 
scarcely seemed to have noticed Algy's absence ; for he said, 
as if in continuance of the conversation : " And do you 
think this money will come to Lionel, Algy ?" 

" I can scarcely tell, dear old boy. It's on the cards, but 
the betting is heavily against it. However, we shall know in 
a very few days." 

In a very few days they did know. The funeral, to which 
Earl Beauport and Algy Barford were invited, and which 
they attended, was over, and Mr. Trivett had requested 
them to return with him in the mourning-coach to Curzon 
Street. There, in the jolly little dining-room, which had so 
often enshrined the hospitality of the quaint, eccentric, warm- 
hearted old gentleman whose earthly remains they had left 
behind them at Kensal Green, after some cake and wine, old 
Mr. Trivett took from a blue bag, which had been left there 
for him by his clerk, the will of the deceased, and putting on 
his blue-steel spectacles, commenced reading it aloud. The 
executors appointed were George Earl Beauport and 
Algernon Barford, and to each of them was bequeathed a 
legacy of a thousand pounds. To Algernon Barford, " a 
good fellow, who, I know, will spend it like a gentleman," 
was also left a thousand pounds. There were legacies of 



Lady Beaufiorfs Ptot, 215 

five hundred pounds each "to John Saunders, my faithful 
valet, and to Rebecca, his wife, my cook and housekeeper." 
There was a legacy of one hundred pounds to the librarian 
of the Minerva Club, " to whom I have given much trouble," 
The library of books, the statues, pictures, and curios were 
bequeathed to " my cousin Arthur, Viscount Caterham, the 
only member of my family who can appreciate them ;" and 
"the entire residue of my fortune, my estate at Boxwood, 
money standing in the funds and other securities, plate, 
wines, carriages, horses, and all my property, to Anna, only 
daughter of my second cousin, the late Ralph Ampthill 
Maurice, Esq., formerly of the Priory, Willesden, whom I 
name my residuary legatee." 



CHAPTER X. 

LADY BEATJPORX'S PLOT. 

YES ; little Annie Maurice, Lady Beauport's companion, 
was the heiress of the rich and eccentric Mr. Ampthill, 
so long known in society. The fact was a grand thing for 
the paragraph -mongers and the diners-out, all of whom 
distorted it in every possible way, and told the most incon- 
ceivable lies about it. That Annie was Mr. AmpthiU's 
natural daughter, and had been left on a door-step, and was 
adopted by Lady Beauport, who had found her in an orphan- 
asylum ; that Mr. Ampthill had suddenly determined upon 
leaving all his property to the first person he might meet on 
a certain day, and that Annie Maurice was the fortunate 
individual ; that the will had been made purposely to spite 
Lady Beauport, with whom Mr. Ampthill, when a young 
man, had been madly in love — all these rumours went the 
round of the gossip-columns of the journals and of Society's 
dinner-parties. Other stories there were, perhaps a little 
nearer to truth, which explained that it was not until after 
Lionel Brakespere's last escapade he had been disinherited ; 
indeed, that Parkinson of Thavies Inn and Scadgers of 
Berners Street had looked upon his inheritance as such a 
certainty, that they had made considerable advances on the 
strength of it, and would be heavily hit ; while a rumour, 



si6 Land at Last. 

traceable to the old gentleman's housekeeper, stated that 
Annie Maurice was the only one of Mr. Ampthill's con- 
nections who had never fawned on him, nattered him, or in 
any way intrigued for his favour. 

Be this as it might, the fact remained that Annie was now 
the possessor of a large fortune, and consequently a person 
of great importance to all her friends and acquaintance — a 
limited number, but quite sufficient to discuss her rise in life 
with every kind of asperity. They wondered how she would 
bear it ; whether she would give herself airs ; how soon, and 
to what member of the peerage, she would be married. 
How did she bear it ? When Lord Beauport sent for her to 
his study, after Mr. Ampthill's funeral, and told her what he 
had heard, she burst into tears ; which was weak, but not 
unnatural. Then, with her usual straightforward common- 
sense, she set about forming her plans. She had never seen 
her benefactor, so that even Mrs. Grundy herself could 
scarcely have called on Annie to affeci sorrow for his loss ; 
and indeed remarks were made by Mr. Ampthill's old butler 
and housekeeper (who, being provided with mourning out ot 
the estate, were as black and as shiny as a couple of old 
rooks) about the very mitigated grief which Annie chose to 
exhibit in her attire. 

Then as to her mode of life. For the present, at least, 
she determined to make no change in it. She said so at 
once to Lord Beauport, expressing an earnest hope that she 
should be allowed to remain under his roof, where she had 
been so happy, until she had settled how and where she 
should live ; and Lord Beauport replied that it would give 
him — and he was sure he might speak for Lady Beauport — 
the greatest pleasure to have Miss Maurice with them. He 
brought a message to that effect from Lady Beauport, who 
had one of her dreadful neuralgic attacks, and could see no 
one, but who sent her kind love to Miss Maurice, and her 
heartiest congratulations, and hoped that Miss Maurice would 
remain with them as long as she pleased. The servants of 
the house, who heard of the good fortune of "the young 
lady," rejoiced greatly at it, and suggested that miss would go 
hout of this at once, and leave my lady to grump about in 
that hold carriage by herself. They were greatly astonished, 
therefore, the next morning to find Annie seated at the nine- 
o'clock breakfast-table, preparing Lady Beauport's chocolate, 



Lady Beauporfs Plot. 217 

and dressed just as usual. They had expected that the first 
sign of her independence would be lying in bed till noon, 
and then appearing in a gorgeous wrapper, such as the ladies 
in the penny romances always wore in the mornings ; and 
the)' could only account for her conduct by supposing that 
she had to give a month's warning and must work out her 
time. Lady Beauport herself was astonished when, the 
necessity for the neuralgic attack being over, she found Annie 
coming to ask her, as usual, what letters she required written, 
and whether she should pay any calls for her ladyship. 
Lady Beauport delicately remonstrated ; but Annie declared 
that she would infinitely prefer doing exactly as she had 
been accustomed to, so long as she should remain in the 
house. 

So long as she should remain in the house ! That was 
exactly the point on which Lady Beauport was filled with 
hope and dread. Her ladyship had been cruelly disappointed 
in Mr. AmpthiU's will. She had suffered herself to hope 
against hope, and to shut her eyes to all unfavourable 
symptoms. The old gentleman had taken so much notice 
of Lionel when a boy, had spoken so warmly of him, had 
made so much of him, that he could not fail to make him 
his heir. In vain had Lord Beauport spoken to her more 
plainly than was his wont, pointing out that Lionel's was no 
venial crime ; that Mr. Ampthill probably had heard of it, 
inasmuch as he never afterwards mentioned the young man's 
name ; that however his son's position might be reinstated 
before the world, the act could never be forgotten. In vain 
Algy Barford shook his head, and Caterham preserved a 
gloomy silence worse than any speech. Lady Beauport's 
hopes did not desert her until she heard the actual and final 
announcement. Almost simultaneously with this came Lord 
Beauport with Annie's request that she should be permitted 
to continue an inmate of the house ; and immediately Lady 
Beauport conceived and struck out a new plan of action. 
The heritage was lost to Lionel ; but the heiress was Annie 
Maurice, a girl domiciled with them, clinging to them ; 
unlikely, at least for the few ensuing months, to go into the 
world, to give the least chance to any designing fortune- 
hunter. And Lionel was coming home ! His mother was 
certain that the letter which she had written to him on the 
first news of Mr. AmpthiU's illness would induce him, already 



e 1 8 Land at Last. 

sick of exile, to start for England. He would arrive soon, 
and then the season would be over ; they would all go away 
to Homershams, or one of Beauport's places ; they would 
not have any company for some time, and Lionel would be 
thrown into Annie Maurice's society ; and it would be hard 
if he, with his handsome face, his fascinating mariners, and 
his experience of women and the world, were not able to 
make an easy conquest of this simple quiet young girl, and 
thus to secure the fortune which his mother had originally 
expected for him. 

Such was Lady Beauport's day-dream now, and to its 
realisation she gave up every thought, in reference to it she 
planned every action. It has already been stated that she 
had always treated Annie with respect, and even with regard : 
so that the idea of patronage, the notion of behaving to her 
companion in any thing but the spirit of a lady, had never 
entered her mind. But now there was an amount of affec- 
tionate interest mingled with her regard which Annie could 
not fail to perceive and to be gratified with. All was done 
in the most delicate manner. Lady Beauport never forgot 
the lady in the intrigante ; her advances were of the subtlest 
kind ; her hints were given and allusions were made in the 
most guarded manner. She accepted Annie's assistance as 
her amanuensis, and she left to her the usual colloquies on 
domestic matters with the housekeeper, because she saw that 
Annie wished it to be so ; and she still drove out with her 
in the carriage, only insisting that Annie should sit by her 
side instead of opposite on the back-seat. And instead of 
the dignified silence of the employer, only speaking when 
requiring an answer, Lady Beauport would keep up a per- 
petual conversation, constantly recurring to the satisfaction 
it gave her to have Annie still with her. " I declare I don't 
know what I should have done if you had left me, Annie ! " 
she would say. " I'm sure it was the mere thought of having 
to be left by myself, or to the tender mercies of somebody 
who knew nothing about me, that gave me that last frightful 
attack of neuralgia. You see I am an old woman now ; and 
though the Carringtons are proverbially strong and long-lived, 
yet I have lost all my elasticity of spirit, and feel I could 
not shape myself to any person's way now. And poor Cater- 
ham too ! I cannot think how he would ever get on without 
you. You seem now to be an essential part of his life. 



Lady Beauporfs Plot. 219 

Poor Caterham ! Ah, how I wish you had seen my other 
son, my boy Lionel ! Such a splendid fellow ; so handsome ! 
Ah, Lord Beauport was dreadfully severe on him, poor fellow, 
that night, — you recollect, when he had you and Caterham 
in to tell you about poor Lionel; as though young men 
would not be always young men. Poor Lionel ! " Poor 
Lionel ! that was the text of Lady Beauport's discourse 
whenever she addressed herself to Annie Maurice. 

It was not to be supposed that Annie's change of fortune 
had not a great effect upon Lord Caterham. When he first 
heard of it — from Algy Barford, who came direct to him 
from the reading of the will—he rejoiced that at least her 
future was secure ; that, come what might to him or his 
parents, there would be a provision for her ; that no chance 
of her being reduced to want, or of her having to consult 
the prejudices of other people, and to perform a kind of 
genteel servitude with any who could not appreciate her 
worth could now arise. But with this feeling another soon 
mingled. Up to that time she had been all in all to 
him — to him; simply because to the outside world she was 
nobody, merely Lady Beauport's companion, about whom 
none troubled themselves ; now she was Miss Maurice the 
heiress, and in a very different position. They could not 
hope to keep her to themselves; they could not hope to 
keep her free from the crowd of mercenary adorers always 
looking out for every woman with money whom they might 
devour. In her own common sense lay her strongest safe- 
guard ; and that, although reliable on all ordinary occasions, 
had never been exposed to so severe a trial as flattery and 
success. Were not the schemers already plotting? even 
within the citadel was there not a traitor? Algy Barford 
had kept his trust, and had not betrayed one word of what 
Lady Beauport had told him ; but from stray expressions 
dropped now and again, and from the general tenor of his 
mother's behaviour, Lord Caterham saw plainly what she 
was endeavouring to bring about. On that subject his mind 
was made up. He had such thorough confidence in Annie's 
goodness, in her power of discrimination between right and 
wrong, that he felt certain that she could never bring herself 
to love his brother Lionel, however handsome his face, how- 
ever specious his manner; but if, woman-like, she should 
give way and follow her inclination rather than her reason, 



2 20 Land at Last. 

then he determined to talk to her plainly and openly, and 
to do every thing in his power to prevent the result on which 
his mother had set her heart. 

There was not a scrap of selfishness in all this. However 
deeply Arthur Caterham loved Annie Maurice, the hope of 
making her his had never for an instant arisen in his breast. 
He knew too well that a mysterious decree of Providence 
had shut him out from the roll of those who are loved by 
woman, save in pity or sympathy ; and it was with a feeling 
of relief, rather than regret, that of late — within the last few 
months' — he had felt an inward presentiment that his com- 
merce with Life was almost at an end, that his connection 
with that Vanity Fair, through which he had been wheeled 
as a spectator, but in the occupation or amusement of which 
he had never participated, was about to cease. He loved 
her so dearly, that the thought of her future was always 
before him, and caused him infinite anxiety. Worst of all, 
there was no one of whom he could make a confidant 
amongst his acquaintance. Algy Barford would do any thing ; 
but he was a bachelor, which would incapacitate him, and 
by far too easy-going, trouble -hating, and unimpressive. 
Who else was there ? Ah, a good thought ! — that man 
Ludlow, the artist ; an old friend of Annie's, for whom she 
had so great a regard. He was not particularly strong- 
minded out of his profession ; but his devotion to his child- 
friend was undoubted ; and besides, he was a man of educa- 
tion and common sense, rising, too, to a position which 
would insure his being heard. He would talk with Ludlow 
about Annie's future ; so he wrote off to Geoffrey by the 
next post, begging him to come and see him as soon as 
possible. Yes, he could look at it all quite steadily now. 
Heaven knows, life to him had been no such happiness as 
to make its surrender painful or difficult. It was only as he 
neared his journey's end, he thought, that any light had been 
shed upon his path, and when that should be extinguished 
he would have no heart to go further. No : let the end 
come, as he knew it was coming, swiftly and surely ; only 
let him think that her future was secured, and he could die 
more than contented — happy. 

Her future secured ! ah, that he should not live to see 1 
It could not, must not be by a marriage with Lionel. His 
mother had never broached that subject openly to him, and 



Lady Beauporfs Plot. 221 

therefore he had hitherto felt a delicacy in alluding to it in 
conversation with her ; but he would before — well, he would 
in time. Not that he had much fear of Annie's succumbing 
to his brother's fascinations ; he rated her too highly for that. 
It was not — and he took up a photographic album which 
lay on his table, as the idea passed through his mind — it was 
not that careless reckless expression, that easy insolent pose, 
which would have any effect on Annie Maurice's mental 
constitution. Those who imagine that women are enslaved 
through their eyes — true women — women worth winning at 
least — are horribly mistaken, he thought, and — And then 
at that instant he turned the page and came upon a photo- 
graph of himself, in which the artist had done his best so far 
as arrangement went, but which was so fatally truthful in its 
display of his deformity, that Lord Caterham closed the 
book with a shudder, and sunk back on his couch. 

His painful reverie was broken by the entrance of Stephens, 
who announced that Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow were waiting to 
see his master. Caterham, who was unprepared for a visit 
from Mrs. Ludlow, gave orders that they should be at once 
admitted. Mrs. Ludlow came in leaning on her husband's 
arm, and looking so pale and interesting, that Caterham at 
once recollected the event he had seen announced in the 
Times, and began to apologise. 

" My dear Mrs. Ludlow, what a horrible wretch I am to 
have asked your husband to come and see me, when of 
course he was fully occupied at home attending to you and 
the baby !" Then they both laughed ; and Geoff said : 

"This is her first day out, Lord Caterham; but I had 
promised to take her for a drive ; and as you wanted to see 
me, I thought that — " 

" That the air of St. Barnabas Square, the fresh breezes 
from the Thames, and the cheerful noise of the embank- 
ment-people, would be about the best thing for an invalid, 
eh?" 

"Well — scarcely! but that as it was only stated that my 
wife should go for a quiet drive, I, who have neither the 
time nor the opportunity for such things, might utilise the 
occasion by complying with the request of a gentleman who 
has proved himself deserving of my respect." 

" A hit ! a very palpable hit, Mr. Ludlow !" said Caterham. 
" I bow, and — as the common phrase goes — am sorrv I 



823 Land at Last. 

spoke. But we must not talk business when you have 
brought Mrs. Ludlow out for amusement." 

" O, pray don't think of me, Lord Caterham," said 
Margaret ; " I can always amuse myself." 

" O, of course ; the mere recollection of baby would keep 
you sufficiently employed — at least, so you would have us 
believe. But I'm an old bachelor, and discredit such 
things. So there's a book of photographs for you to amuse 
yourself with while we talk. — Now, Mr. Ludlow, for our 
conversation. Since we met, your old friend Annie Maurice 
has inherited a very large property." 

" So I have heard, to my great surprise and delight. But 
I live so much out of the world that I scarcely knew whether 
it was true, and had determined to ask you the first time I 
should see you." 

" O, it's thoroughly true. She is the heiress of old Mr. 
Ampthill, who was a second cousin of her father's. But it 
was about her future career, as heiress of all this property, 
that I wanted to speak to you, you see. — I beg your pardon, 
Mrs. Ludlow, what did you say?" 

Her face was dead white, her lips trembled, and it was 
with great difficulty she said any thing at all ; but she did 
gasp out, "Who is this?" 

"That," said Lord Caterham, bending over the book; "O, 
that is the portrait of my younger brother, Lionel Brakespere j 
he — " but Caterham stopped short in his explanation, for 
Mrs. Ludlow fell backward in a swoon. 

And every one afterwards said that it was very thoughtless 
of her to take such a long drive so soon after her confine 
ment. 



CHAPTER XI. 

CONJECTURES. 

MISS MAURICE was not in the house when Geoffrey 
Ludlow and his wife made that visit to Lord 
Caterham which had so plainly manifested Margaret's 
imprudence and inexperience. The housekeeper and one 
of the housemaids had come to the assistance of the 
gentlemen, both equally alarmed and one at least calculated 



Conjectures. 223 

to be, of a.11 men living, the most helpless under the circum 
stances. Geoffrey was " awfully frightened," as he told her 
afterwards, when Margaret fainted. 

"I shall never forget the whiteness of your face, my 
darling, and the dreadful sealed look of your eyelids. I 
thought in a moment that was how you would look if you 
were dead ; and what should I do if I ever had to see that 
sight !" 

This loving speech Geoffrey made to his wife as they 
drove homewards, — she pale, silent, and coldly abstracted; 
he full of tender anxiety for her comfort and apprehension 
for her health, — sentiments which rendered him, to say the 
truth, rather a trying companion in a carriage ; for he was 
constantly pulling the glasses up and down, fixing them a 
button-hole higher or lower, rearranging the blinds, and 
giving the coachman contradictory orders. These pro- 
ceedings were productive of no apparent annoyance to 
Margaret, who lay back against the cushions with eyes open 
and moody, and her underlip caught beneath her teeth. She 
maintained unbroken silence until they reached home, and 
then briefly telling Geoffrey that she was going to her room 
to lie down, she left him. 

"She's not strong," said Geoffrey, as he proceeded to 
disembarrass himself of his outdoor attire, and to don his 
"working-clothes," — "she's not strong; and it's very odd 
she's not more cheerful. I thought the child would have 
made it all right ; but perhaps it will when she's stronger." 
And Geoff sighed as he went to his work, and sighed again 
once or twice as he pursued it. 

Meanwhile Lord Caterham was thinking over the startling 
incident which had just occurred. He was an observant 
man naturally, and the enforced inaction of his life had 
increased this tendency; while his long and deep experience 
of physical suffering and weakness had rendered him acutely 
alive to any manifestations of a similar kind in other people. 
Mrs. Ludlow's fainting-fit puzzled him. She had been 
looking so remarkably well when she came in; there had 
been nothing feverish, nothing suggestive of fictitious strength 
or over-exertion in her appearance; no feebleness in her 
manner or languor in the tone of her voice. The suddenness 
and completeness of the swoon were strange, — were so 
much beyond the ordinary faintness which a drive undertaken 



224 Land at Last. 

a little too soon might be supposed to produce, — and the 
expression of Margaret's face, when she had recovered her 
consciousness, was so remarkable, that Lord Caterham felt 
instinctively the true origin of her illness had not been that 
assigned to it. 

" She looked half-a-dozen years older," he thought ; " and 
the few words she said were spoken as if she were in a 
dream. I must be more mistaken than I have ever been, or 
there is something very wrong about that woman. And 
what a good fellow he is ! — what a simple-hearted blundering 
kind fellow ! How wonderful his blindness is ! I saw in a 
moment how he loved her, how utterly uninterested she is 
in him and his affairs. I hope there may be nothing worse 
than lack of interest ; but I am afraid, very much afraid for 
Ludlow." 

And then Lord Caterham's thoughts wandered away from 
the artist and his beautiful wife to that other subject which 
occupied them so constantly, and with which every other 
cogitation or contemplation contrived to mingle itself in an 
unaccountable manner, on which he did not care to reason, 
and against which he did not attempt to strive. What did 
it matter now ? He might be ever so much engrossed, and 
no effort at self-control or self-conquest would be called for ; 
the feelings he cherished unchecked could not harm any 
one — could not harm himself now. There was great relief, 
great peace in that thought,— no strife for him to enter on, 
no struggle in which his suffering body and weary mind 
must engage. The end would be soon with him now ; and 
while he waited for it, he might love this bright young girl 
with all the power of his heart. 

So Lord Caterham lay quite still upon the couch on which 
they had placed Margaret when she fainted, and thought 
over all he had intended to say to Geoffrey, and must now 
seek another opportunity of saying, and turned over in his 
mind sundry difficulties which he began to foresee in the 
way of his cherished plan, and which would probably arise 
in the direction of Mrs. Ludlow. Annie and Margaret had 
not hitherto seen much of each other, as has already 
appeared; and there was something ominous in the oc- 
currence of that morning which troubled Lord Caterham's 
mind and disturbed his preconcerted arrangements. If 
trouble — trouble of some unknown kind, but, as he intui- 



Conjectures, 225 

tively felt, of a serious nature — were hanging over Geoffre 
Ludlow's head, what was to become of his guardianship of 
Annie in the future, — that future which Lord Caterham felt 
was drawing so near; that future which would find her 
without a friend, and would leave her exposed to countless 
flatterers. He was pondering upon these things when 
Annie entered the room, bright and blooming, after her 
drive in the balmy summer air, and carrying a gorgeous 
bouquet of crimson roses. 

She was followed by Stephens, carrying two tall Venetian 
glasses. He placed them on a table, and then withdrew. 

"Look, Arthur," said Annie; "we've been to Fulham, 
and I got these fresh cut, all for your own self, at the 
nursery-gardens. None of those horrid formal tied-up 
bouquets for you, or for me either, with the buds stuck on 
with wires, and nasty fluffy bits of cotton sticking to the 
leaves. I went round with the man, and made him cut 
each rose as I pointed it out ; and they're such beauties, 
Arthur ! Here's one for you to wear and smell and spoil ; 
but the others I'm going to keep fresh for ever so long." 

She went over to the couch and gave him the rose, a rich 
crimson full-formed flower, gorgeous in colour and exquisite 
in perfume. He took it with a smile and held it in his hand. 

"Why don't you put it in your button-hole, Lord 
Caterham?" said Annie, with a pretty air of pettishness 
which became her well. 

"Why?" said Lord Caterham. "Do you think I am 
exactly the style of man to wear posies and breast-knots, 
little Annie?" His tone was sad through its playfulness. 

"Nonsense, Arthur," she began; "you — " Then she 
looked at him, and stopped suddenly, and her face changed. 
"Have you been worse to-day? You look very pale. Have 
you been in pain ? Did you want me ?" 

"No, no, my child," said Lord Caterham; "I am just as 
usual. Go on with your flowers, Annie, — settle them up, 
lest they fade. They are beautiful indeed, and we'll keep 
them as long as we can." 

She was not reassured, and she still stood and gazed 
earnestly at him. 

" I am all right, Annie, — I am indeed. My head is even 
easier than usual. But some one has been ill, if I haven't. 
Your friends the Ludlows were here to-day. Did no one 
tell you as you came in ?" 



226 Land at Last 

" No, I did not see any one ; I left my bonnet in the 
ante-room and came straight in here. I only called to 
Stephens to bring the flower-glasses. Was Mrs. Ludlow ill, 
Arthur? Did she come to see me?" 

" I don't think so — she only came, I think, because I 
wanted to see Ludlow, and he took advantage of the cir- 
cumstance to have a drive with her. Have you seen her 
since the child was born ?" 

"No, I called, but only to inquire. But was she ill? 
What happened?" 

"Well, she was ill — she fainted. Ludlow and I were 
just beginning to talk, and, at her own request, leaving 
her to amuse herself with the photographs and things lying 
about — and she had just asked me some trifling question, 
something about Lionel's portrait — whose it was, I think 
— when she suddenly fainted. I don't think there could 
be a more complete swoon ; she really looked as though she 
were dead." 

"What did you do? was Geoffrey frightened?" 

"Yes, we were both frightened. Stephens came, and two 
of the women. Ludlow was terrified ; but she soon re- 
covered, and she would persist in going home, though I 
tried to persuade her to wait until you returned. But she 
would not listen to it, and went away with Ludlow in a 
dreadful state of mind ; he thinks he made her take the 
drive too soon, and is frightfully penitent." 

"Well but, Arthur," said Annie, seriously and anxiously, 
" I suppose he did. It must have been that which knocked 
her up. She has no mother or sister with her, you know, 
to tell her about these things." 

"My dear Annie," said Lord Caterham, "she has a 
doctor and a nurse, I suppose ; and she has common-sense, 
and knows how she feels, herself — does she not? She 
looked perfectly well when she came in, and handsomer 
than when I saw her before — and I don't believe the drive 
had any thing to do with the fainting-fit." 

Miss Maurice looked at Lord Caterham in great surprise. 
His manner and tone were serious, and her feelings, easily 
roused when her old friend was concerned, were excited 
now to apprehension. She left off arranging the roses ; she 
dried her finger-tips on her handkerchief, and placing a 
chair close beside Caterham's couch, she sat down and 
asked him anxiously to explain his meaning. 



Conjectures. 227 

" I can't do that veiy well, Annie," he said, " for I am 
not certain of what it is ; but of this I am certain, my 
first impression of Mrs. Ludlow is correct. There is some- 
thing wrong about her, and Ludlow is ignorant of it. All I 
said to you that day is more fully confirmed in my mind 
now. There is some dark secret in the past of her life, and 
the secret in the present is, that she lives in that past, and 
does not love her husband." 

" Poor Geoffrey," said Annie, in whose eyes tears were 
standing — " poor Geoffrey, and how dearly he loves her ! " 

" Yes," said Lord Caterham, "that's the worst of it ; that, 
and his unsuspiciousness, — he does not see what the most 
casual visitor to their house sees ; he does not perceive 
the weariness of spirit that is the first thing, next to her 
beauty, which every one with common perception must 
recognise. She takes no pains — she does not make the 
least attempt to hide it. Why, to-day, when she recovered, 
when her eyes opened — such gloomy eyes they were ! — 
and Ludlow was kneeling here," — he pointed down beside 
the couch he lay on — " bending over her, — did she look 
up at him ? — did she meet the gaze fixed on her and smile, 
or try to smile, to comfort and reassure him ? Not she : 
I was watching her ; she just opened her eyes and let them 
wander round, turned her head from him, and let it fall 
against the side of the couch as if she never cared to lift 
it more." 

" Poor Geoffrey !" said Annie again; this time with a sob, 

"Yes, indeed, Annie," he went on; "I pity him, as much 
as I mistrust her. He has never told you any thing about 
her antecedents, has he ? — and I suppose she has not been 
more communicative ?" 

" No," replied Annie ; "I know nothing more than I 
have told you. She has always been the same when I have 
seen her — trying, I thought, to seem and be happier than at 
first, but very languid still. Geoffrey said sometimes that 
she was rather out of spirits, but he seemed to think it was 
only delicate health— and I hoped so too, though I could 
not help fearing you were right in all you said that day. 
O, Arthur, isn't it hard to think of Geoffrey loving her 
so much, and working so hard, and getting so. poor a 
return ?" 

" It is indeed, Annie," said Lord Caterham, with a strange 

Q 3 



228 j^and at Last. 

wistful look at her ; " it is very hard. But I fear there are 
harder things than that in store for Ludlow. He is not 
conscious of the extent of his misfortune, if even he knows 
of its existence at all. I fear the time is coming when 
he must know all there is to be known, whatever it may 
be. That woman has a terrible secret in her life, Annie, 
and the desperate weariness within her — how she let it show 
when she was recovering from the swoon ! — will force it 
into the light of day before long. Her dreary quietude is 
the calm before the storm." 

" I suppose I had better write this evening and inquire 
for her," said Annie, after a pause ; "and propose to call on 
her. It will gratify Geoffrey." 

" Do so," said Lord Caterham ; " I will write to Ludlow 
myself." 

Annie wrote her kind little letter, and duly received 
a reply. Mrs. Ludlow was much better, but still rather 
weak, and did not feel quite able to receive Miss Maurice's 
kindly-proffered visit just at present. 

" I am very glad indeed of that, Annie," said Lord 
Caterham, to whom she showed the note ; " you cannot 
possibly do Ludlow any good, my child; and something 
tells me that the less you see of her the better." 

For some days following that on which the incident and 
the conversation just recorded took place, Lord Caterham 
was unable to make his intended request to Geoffrey Ludlow 
that the latter would call upon him, that they might renew 
their interrupted conversation. One of those crises in the 
long struggle which he maintained with disease and pain, in 
which entire prostration produced a kind of truce, had come 
upon him ; and silence, complete inaction, and almost a 
suspension of his faculties, marked its duration. The few 
members of the household who had access to him were 
familiar with this phase of his condition ; and on this occa- 
sion it attracted no more notice than usual, except from 
Annie, who remarked additional gravity in the manner ot 
the physician, and who perceived that the state of exhaus- 
tion of the patient lasted longer, and when he rallied was 
succeeded by less complete restoration to even his customary 
condition than before. She mentioned these results of her 
close observation to Lady Beauport ; but the countess paid 



Conjectures. 229 

very little attention to the matter, assuring Annie that 
she knew Caterham much too well to be frightened; that 
he would do very well if there were no particular fuss 
made about him ; and that all doctors were alarmists, and 
said dreadful things to increase their own importance. Annie 
would have called her attention to the extenuating circum- 
stance that Lord Caterham's medical attendant had not 
said any thing at all, and that she had merely interpreted 
his looks ; but Lady Beauport was so anxious to tell her 
something illustrative of "poor Lionel's" beauty, grace, 
daring, or dash — no matter which or what — that Annie 
found it impossible to get in another word. 

A day or two later, when Lord Caterham had rallied 
a good deal, and was able to listen to Annie as she read 
to him, and while she was so engaged, and he was looking 
at her with the concentrated earnestness she remarked so 
frequently in his gaze of late, — Algy Barford was announced. 
Algy had been constantly at the house to inquire for Lord 
Caterham ; but to-day Stephens had felt sure his master 
would be able and glad to see Algy. Every body liked 
that genial soul, and servants in particular- — a wonderful 
test of popularity and its desert. He came in very quietly, 
and he and Annie exchanged greetings cordially. She liked 
him also. After he had spoken cheerily to Caterham, and 
called him " dear old boy" at least a dozen times in as 
many sentences, the conversation was chiefly maintained 
between him and Miss Maurice. She did not think much 
talking would do for Arthur just then, and she made no 
movement towards leaving the room, as was her usual 
custom. Algy was a little subdued in tone and spirits : 
it was impossible even to him to avoid seeing that Caterham 
was looking much more worn and pale than usual ; and 
he was a bad hand at disguising a painful impression, so 
that he was less fluent and discursive than was his wont, 
and decidedly ill at ease. 

"How is your painting getting on, Miss Maurice?" he 
said, when a pause became portentous. 

" She has been neglecting it in my favour," said Lord 
Caterham. "She has not even finished the portrait you 
admired so much, Algy." 

"O! — ah! — 'The Muse of Painting,' wasn't it? It is 
a pity not to finish it, Miss Maurice. I think you would 



230 Land at Last. 

never succeed better than in that case, — you admire the 
original so much." 

"Yes," said Annie, with rather an uneasy glance towards 
Caterham, " she is really beautiful. Arthur thinks her quite 
as wonderful as I do; but I have not seen her lately — 
she has been ill. By the bye, Arthur, Geoffrey Ludlow 
wrote to me yesterday inquiring for you; and only think 
what he says ! — ' I hope my wife's illness did not upset 
Lord Caterham; but I am afraid it did.'" Annie had taken 
a note from the pocket of her apron, and read these words 
in a laughing voice. 

" Hopes his wife's illness did not upset Lord Caterham ! " 
repeated Algy Barford in a tone of whimsical amazement. 
" What may that mean, dear old boy ? Why are you sup- 
posed to be upset by the peerless lady of the u.nspeakable 
eyes and the unapproachable hair ?" 

Annie laughed, and Caterham smiled as he replied, 
" Only because Mrs. Ludlow fainted here in this room very 
suddenly, and very ' dead,' one day lately ; and as Mrs. 
Ludlow's fainting was a terrible shock to Ludlow, he con- 
cludes that it was also a terrible shock to me, — that's all." 

"Well, but," said Algy, apparently seized with an un- 
accountable access of curiosity, "why did Mrs. Ludlow 
faint? and what brought her here to faint in your room ?" 

" It was inconsiderate, I confess," said Caterham, still 
smiling ; " but I don't think she meant it. The fact is, 
I had asked Ludlow to come and see me ; and he brought 
his wife ; and — and she has not been well, and the drive 
was too much for her, I suppose. At all events, Ludlow 
and I were talking, and not minding her particularly, when 
she said something to me, and I turned round and saw 
her looking deadly pale, and before I could answer her she 
fainted." 

" Right off?" asked Algy, with an expression of dismay 
so ludicrous that Annie could not resist it, and laughed 
outright. 

"Right off, indeed," answered Caterham; "down went 
the photograph-book on the floor, and down she would 
have gone if Ludlow had been a second later, or an inch, 
farther away ! Yes ; it was a desperate case, I assure you. 
How glad you must feel that you wer'n't here, Algy,— - 
eh? What would you have done now? Resorted to the 



Gat luring Clouds. 231 

bellows, like the Artful Dodger, or twisted her thumbs, 
according to the famous prescription of Mrs. Gamp?" 

But Algy did not laugh, much to Lord Caterham's amuse- 
ment, who believed him to be overwhelmed by the horrid 
picture his imagination conjured up of the position of the 
two gentlemen under the circumstances. 

" But," said Algy, with perfect gravity, " why did she 
faint ? What did she say ? People don't tumble down in 
a dead faint because they're a little tired, dear old boy — do 
they ?" 

"Perhaps not in general, Algy, but it looks like it in 
Mrs. Ludlow's case. All I can tell you is, that the faint 
was perfectly genuine and particularly ' dead,' and that 
there was no cause for it, beyond the drive and the fatigue 
of looking over the photographs in that book. I am very 
tired of photographs myself, and I suppose most people 
are the same, but I haven't quite come to fainting over 
them yet." 

Algy Barford's stupefaction had quite a rousing effect 
on Lord Caterham, and Annie Maurice liked him and his 
odd ways more than ever. He made some trifling remark 
in reply to Caterham's speech, and took an early opportunity 
of minutely inspecting the photograph-book which he had 
mentioned. 

"So," said Algy to himself, as he walked slowly down 
St. Barnabas Square ; " she goes to see Caterham, and 
faints at sight of dear old Lionel's portrait, does she ? Ah, 
it's all coming out, Algy ; and the best thing you can do, on 
the whole, is to keep your own counsel, — that's about it, 
dear old boy !" 



CHAPTER XII. 

GATHERING CLOUDS. 



l; TV TY younger brother Lionel Brakespere ; " those 
IVj. were Lord Caterham's words. Margaret had 
heard them- distinctly before consciousness left her ; there 
was no mistake, no confusion in her mind, — "my younger 
brother Lionel Brakespere." All unconsciously, then, she 



232 Land at Last, 

had been foi months acquainted and in occasional commu- 
nication with his nearest relatives ! Only that day she had 
been in the house where he had lived ; had sat in a room 
all the associations of which were doubtless familiar to him ; 
had gazed upon the portrait of that face for the sight of 
which her heart yearned with such a desperate restless 
longing ! 

Lord Caterham's brother ! Brother to that poor sickly 
cripple, in whom life's flame seemed not to shine, but to 
flicker merely, — her Lionel, so bright and active and hand- 
some ! Son of that proud, haughty Lady Beauport — yes, 
she could understand that ; it was from his mother that 
he inherited the cool bearing, the easy assurance, the never 
absent hauteur which rendered him conspicuous even in 
a set of men where all these qualities were prized and 
imitated. She had not had the smallest suspicion the name 
she had known him by was assumed, or that he had an 
earl for his father and a viscount for his brother. He had 
been accustomed to speak of "the governor — a good old 
boy j" but his mother and his brother he never mentioned. 

They knew him there, knew him as she had never known 
him — free, unrestrained, without that mask which, to a 
certain extent, he had necessarily worn in her presence. 
In his intercourse with them he had been untrammelled, 
with no lurking fear of what might happen some day; no 
dodging demon at his side suggesting the end, the separa- 
tion that he knew must unavoidably come. And she had 
sat by, ignorant of all that was consuming their hearts' 
cores, which, had she been able to discuss it with them, 
would have proved to be her own deepest, most cherished, 
most pertinacious source of thought. They? — who were 
they ? How many of them had known her Lionel ? — how 
many of them had cared for him ? Lady Beauport and 
Lord Caterham, of course — but of the others? Geoffrey 
himself had never known him. No ; thank God for that ! 
The comparison between her old lover and her husband 
which she had so often drawn in her own mind had never, 
could never have occurred to him. Geoffrey's only con- 
nection with the Beauport family had been through Annie 
Maurice. Ah ! Annie Maurice ! — the heiress now, whose 
sudden acquisition of wealth and position they were all 
talking of,— she had not seen Lionel in the old days ; and 



Gathering Clouds. 233 

even if she had, it had been slight matter. But Margaret's 
knowledge of the world was wide and ample, and it needed 
very little experience — far less indeed than she had had — to 
show her what might have been the effect had those two 
met under the existent different circumstances. 

For Margaret knew Lionel Brakespere, and read him like 
a book. All her wild infatuation about him, — and her 
infatuation about him was wilder, madder than it had ever 
been before — all the length of time since she lost him, — all 
the long, weary, deadening separation, had not had the 
smallest effect on her calm matured judgment. She knew 
that he was at heart a scoundrel ; she knew that he had 
no stability of heart, no depth of affection. Had not her 
own experience of him taught her that ? had not the easy, 
indifferent, heartless way in which he had slipped out of 
her knotted arms, leaving her to pine and fret and die, 
for all he cared, shown her that ? She had a thorough 
appreciation of his worship of the rising sun, — she knew 
how perfectly he would have sold himself for wealth and 
position ; and yet she loved him, loved him through all ! 

This was her one consolation in the thought of his absence 
—his exile. Had he been in England, how readily would 
he have fallen into those machinations which she guessed 
his mother would have been only too ready to plot ! She 
knew he was thousands of miles away; and the thought 
that she was freed from rivalry in a great measure reconciled 
her to his absence. She could hold him in her heart of 
hearts as her own only love ; there was no one, in her 
thoughts, to dispute her power over him. He was hers, — 
hers alone. And he had obtained an additional interest 
in her eyes since she had discovered his identity. Now 
she would cultivate that acquaintance with his people, — 
all unknowingly she should be able to ally herself more 
closely to him. Casual questions would bring direct answers 
— all bearing on the topic nearest her heart : without in 
the smallest degree betraying her own secret, she would 
be able to feed her own love-flame, — to hear of, to talk 
of him for whom every pulse of her heart throbbed and 
yearned. 

Did it never occur to her to catechise that heart, to 
endeavour to portray vividly to herself the abyss on the 
brink of which she was standing, — to ask herself whether 



234 Land at Last. 

she was prepared to abnegate all sense of gratitude and 
duty, and to persevere in the course which — not recklessly, 
not in a moment of passion, but calmly and unswervingly — 
she had begun to tread ? Yes ; she had catechised herself 
often, had ruthlessly probed her own heart, had acknow- 
ledged her baseness and ingratitude, yet had found it im- 
possible to struggle against the pervading thrall. Worse 
than all, the sight of the man to whom she owed every 
thing — comfort, respectability, almost life itself, — the sight 
of him patiently labouring for her sake had become op- 
pressive to her; from calmly suffering it, she had come 
to loathe and rebel against it. Ah, what a contrast between 
the present dull, dreary, weary round and the bright old 
days of the past ! To her, and to her alone, was the time 
then dedicated. She would not then have been left to 
sit alone, occupying her time as best she might, but every 
instant would have been devoted to her ; and let come what 
might on the morrow, that time would have been spent in 
gaiety. 

Was there no element of rest in the new era of her life ? 
Did not the child which lay upon her bosom bring some 
alleviating influence, some new sphere for the absorption 
of her energies, some new hope, in the indulgence in which 
she might have found at least temporary forgetfulness of 
self? Alas, none ! She had accepted her maternity as 
she had accepted her wifehood, — calmly, quietly, without 
even a pretence of that delicious folly, that pardonable self- 
satisfaction, that silly, lovable, incontrovertible, charming 
pride which nearly always accompanies the first experience 
of motherhood. Old Geoff was mad about his first-born — 
would leave his easel and come crooning and peering up 
into the nursery, — would enter that sacred domain in a half- 
sheepish manner, as though acknowledging his intrusion, 
but on the score of parental love hoping for forgiveness, — 
would say a few words of politeness to the nurse, who, 
inexorable to most men, was won over by his genuine 
devotion and his evident humility, — would take up the 
precious bundle, at length confided to him, in the awk- 
wardest manner, and would sit chirrupping to the little 
putty face, or swing the shapeless mass to and fro, singing 
meanwhile the dismallest of apparently Indian dirges, and 
all the while be experiencing the most acute enjoyment. 



Gathering Clouds. 235 

Geoff was by nature a heavy sleeper; but the slightest 
cry of the child in the adjoining chamber would rouse 
him ; the inevitable infantile maladies expressed in the in 
evitable peevish whine, so marvellously imitated by the 
toy-baby manufacturers, would fill him with horror and 
fright, causing him to lie awake in an agony of suspense, 
resting on his elbow and listening with nervous anxiety for 
their cessation or their increase ; while Margaret, wearied 
out in mental anxiety, either slept tranquilly by his side 
or remained awake, her eyes closed, her mind abstracted 
from all that was going on around her, painfully occupied 
with retrospect of the past or anticipation of the future. 
She did not care for her baby? No — plainly no ! She 
accepted its existence as she had accepted the other neces- 
sary corollaries of her marriage; but the grand secret ot 
maternal love was as far removed from her as though she 
had never suffered her travail and brought a man-child into 
the world. That she would do her duty by her baby she 
had determined, — much in the same spirit that she had 
decided upon the strict performance of her conjugal duty ; 
but no question of love influenced her. She did not dislike 
the child, — she was willing to give herself up to the in- 
conveniences which its nurture, its care, its necessities occa- 
sioned her ; but that was all. 

If Margaret did not " make a fuss " with the child, there 
were plenty who did ; numberless people to come and call ; 
numberless eyes to watch all that happened, — to note the 
ijisouciance which existed, instead of the solicitude which 
should have prevailed; numberless tongues to. talk and 
chatter and gossip, — to express wonderment, to declare that 
their owners "had never seen the like," and so on. Little 
Dr. Brandram found it more difficult than ever to get away 
from his lady-patients. After all their own disorders had 
been discussed and remedies suggested, the conversation 
was immediately turned to his patient at Elm Lodge ; and 
the little medico had to endure and answer a sharp fire 
of questions of all kinds. Was it really a fine child ? and 
was it true that Mrs. Ludlow did not care about it ? She 
was nursing it herself; yes: that proved nothing; every 
decent woman would do that, rather than have one of those 
dreadful creatures in the house- — pints of porter every hour, 
and doing nothing but sit down and abuse every one, and 



2$6 land at Last. 

wanting so much waiting on, as though they were duchesses. 
But was it true? Now, doctor, you must know all these 
stories about her not caring for the child ? Caring !— well, 
you ought to know, with all your experience, what the 
phrase meant. People would talk, you know, and that 
was what they said ; and all the doctor's other patients 
wanted to know was whether it was really true. He did 
his best, the little doctor — for he was a kindly-hearted little 
creature, and Margaret's beauty had had its usual effect upon 
him, — he did his best to endow the facts with a roseate 
hue ; but he had a hard struggle, and only partially suc- 
ceeded. If there was one thing on which the ladies of 
Lowbar prided themselves, it was on their fulfilment of their 
maternal duties ; if there was one bond of union between 
them, it was a sort of tacitly recognised consent to talk 
of and listen to each other's discussion of their children, 
either in existence or in prospect. It was noticed now that 
Margaret had always shirked this inviting subject ; and it 
was generally agreed that it was no wonder, since common 
report averred that she had no pride in her first-born. 
A healthy child too, according to Dr. Brandram — a fine 
healthy well-formed child. Why, even poor Mrs. Ricketts, 
whose baby had spinal complaint, loved it, and made the 
most of it ; and Mrs. Moule, whose little Sarah had been 
blind from her birth, thought her offspring unmatchable 
in the village, and nursed and tended it night and day. No 
wonder that in a colony where these sentiments prevailed, 
Margaret's reputation, hardly won, was speedily on the 
decline. It may be easily imagined too that to old Mrs. 
Ludlow's observant eyes Margaret's want of affection for 
her child did not pass unnoticed. By no one was the 
child's advent into the world more anxiously expected than 
by its grandmother, who indeed looked forward to deriving 
an increased social status from the event, and who had 
already discussed it with her most intimate friends. Mrs. 
Ludlow had been prepared for a great contest for supremacy 
when the child was born — a period at which she intended 
to assert her right of taking possession of her son's house 
and remaining its mistress until her daughter-in-law was 
able to resume her position. She had expected that in this 
act she would have received all the passive opposition of 
which Margaret was capable — opposition with which Geoff, 



Gathering Clouds. 237 

being indoctrinated, might have been in a great measure 
successful. But, to her intense surprise, no opposition was 
made. Margaret received the announcement of Mrs. Lud- 
low's intended visit and Mrs. Ludlow's actual arrival with 
perfect unconcern ; and after her baby had been born, 
and she had bestowed on it a very calm kiss, she suffered 
it to be removed by her mother-in-law with an expression 
which told even more of satisfaction than resignation. This 
behaviour was so far different from any thing Mrs. Ludlow 
had expected, that the old lady did not know what to make 
of it ; and her daughter-in-law's subsequent conduct in- 
creased her astonishment. This astonishment she at first 
tried to keep to herself; but that was impossible. The 
feeling gradually vented itself in sniffs and starts, in eye- 
brow-upliftings for the edification of the nurse, in suggestive 
exclamations of "Well, my dear?" and "Don't you think, 
my love?" and such old-lady phraseology. Further than 
these little ebullitions Mrs. Ludlow made no sign until her 
daughter came to see her; and then she could no longer 
contain herself, but spoke out roundly. 

" What it is, my dear, I can't tell for the life of me ; 
but there's something the matter with Margaret. She takes 
no more notice of the child than if it were a chair or 
a table; — just a kiss, and how do you do? and nothing 
more." 

" It's because this is her first child, mother. She's strange 
to it, you know, and — " 

"Strange to it, my dear! Nonsense! Nothing of the 
sort. You're a young girl, and can't understand these 
things. But not only that,- — one would think, at such a 
time, she would be more than ever fond of her husband. 
I'm sure when Geoff was born I put up with more from 
your father than ever I did before or since. His ' gander- 
month,' he called it; and he used to go gandering about 
with a parcel of fellows, and come home at all hours of the 
night — I used to hear him, though he did creep upstairs 
with his boots off — but he never had a cross word or look 
from me." 

"Well, but surely, mother, Geoff has not had either cross 
words or cross looks from Margaret?" 

" How provoking you are, Matilda ! That seems to be 
my fate, that no one can understand me. I never said 



238 Land at Last. 

he had, did I ? though it would be a good thing for him 
if he had, poor fellow, I should say — any thing better than 
what he has to endure now." 

" Don't be angry at my worrying you, dear mother ; but 
for Heaven's sake tell me what you mean — what Geoff has 
to endure?" 

" I am not angry, Til ; though it seems to be my luck 
to be imagined angry when there's nothing further from my 
thoughts. I'm not angry, my dear — not in the least." 

"What about Geoff, mother?" 

" O, my dear, that's enough to make one's blood boil ! 
I've never said a word to you before about this, Matilda — 
being one of those persons who keep pretty much to them- 
selves, though I see a great deal more than people think 
for, — I've never said a word to you before about this; 
for, as I said to myself, what good could it do? But 
I'm perfectly certain that there's something wrong with 
Margaret." 

"How do you mean, mother? Something wrong! — is 
she ill?" 

" Now, my dear Matilda, as though a woman would be 
likely to be well when she's just had— — ■ Bless my soul, 
the young women of the present day are very silly ! I wasn't 
speaking of her health, of course." 

" Of what then, mother?" said Til, with resignation. 

" Well, then, my dear, haven't you noticed, — but I suppose 
not : no one appears to notice these things in the way that 
I do, — but you might have noticed that for the last few 
weeks Margaret has seemed full of thought, dreamy, and 
not caring for any thing that went on. If I've pointed out 
once to her about the mite of a cap that that Harriet wears, 
and all her hair flying about her ears, and a crinoline as 
wide as wide, I've spoken a dozen times ; but she's taken 
no notice ; and now the girl sets me at defiance, and tells 
me I'm not her mistress, and never shall be ! That's one 
thing ; but there are plenty of others. I was sure Geoffrey's 
linen could not be properly aired — the colds he caught were 
so awful ; and I spoke to Margaret about it, but she took 
no notice ; and yesterday, when the clothes came home 
from the laundress, I felt them myself, and you might have 
wrung the -water out of them in pints. There are many 
other little things 'too that I've noticed ; and I'll tell you 



Mr. Stompff's Doubts. 239 

what it is, Matilda — I'm certain she has got something on 
her mind." 

" O, I hope not, poor girl, poor dear Margaret !" 

" Poor dear fiddlestick ! What nonsense you talk, Matilda ! 
If there's any one to be pitied, it's Geoffrey, I should say; 
though what he could have expected, taking a girl for his 
wife that he'd known so little of, and not having any wedding- 
breakfast, or any thing regular, I don't know !" 

" But why is Geoffrey to be pitied, mother?" 

" Why? Why, because his wife doesn't love him, my dear! 
Now you know it !" 

" O, mother, for Heaven's sake don't say such a thing ! 
You know you're — you won't mind what I say, dearest 
mother, — but you're a little apt to jump at conclusions, 
and—" 

" O yes, I know, my dear ; I know I'm a perfect fool ! — I 
know that well enough ; and if I don't, it's not for want of 
being reminded of it by my own daughter. But I know I'm 
right in what I say ; and what's more, my son shall know it 
before long." 

" O, mother, you would never tell Geoff ! — you would 
never — " 

" If a man's eyes are not open naturally, my dear, they 
must be opened for him. I shall tell Geoffrey my opinion 
about his wife ; and let him know it in pretty plain terms, I 
can tell you ! " 



CHAPTER XIII. 

MR. STOMPFF'S DOUBTS. 

IT is not to be supposed that because Geoffrey Ludlow's 
married life offered no very striking points for criticism, 
it was left uncriticised by his friends. Those, be they 
married or single, quiet or boisterous, convivial or misan- 
thropical, who do not receive discussion at the hands of 
their acquaintance, are very few in number. There can be 
nothing more charmingly delightful, nothing more charac- 
teristic of this chivalrous age, than the manner in which 
friends speak of each other behind, as the phrase goes, " each 
other's backs." To two sets of people, having a third for 



24° Land at Last. 

common acquaintance, this pastime affords almost inexpres- 
sible delight, more especially if the two sets present have 
been made acquainted with each other through the medium 
of the absent third. It is rather dangerous ground at first, 
because neither of the two sets present can tell whether the 
other may not have some absurd scruples as to the propriety 
of canvassing the merits or demerits of their absent friend ; 
but a little tact, a little cautious dealing with the subject, a 
few advances made as tentatively as those of the elephant 
on the timber bridge, soon show that the discussion will not 
be merely endured, but will be heartily welcome; and 
straightway it is plunged into with the deepest interest. 
How they manage to keep that carriage, — that's what we've 
always wanted to know ! O, you've noticed it too. Well, 
is it rouge, or enamel, or what? That's what I've always 
said to George — how that poor man can go on slaving and 
slaving as he does, and all the money going in finery for her, 
is what I can't understand ! What a compliment to our 
opinion of our powers of character-reading to find all our 
notions indorsed by others, more especially when those 
notions have been derogatory to those with whom Ave have 
for some time been living on terms of intimacy ! To be 
sure there is another side to the medal, when we find that 
those who have known our dear absents a much shorter 
time than we have, claim credit for being far more sharp- 
sighted than we. They marked at once, they say, all the 
shortcomings which we had taken so long to discover ; and 
they lead the chorus of depreciation, in which we only take 
inferior parts. 

It was not often that Mr. Stompff busied himself with the 
domestic concerns of the artists who formed his staff. It 
was generally quite enough for him provided they "came up 
to time," as he called it, did their work well, and did not 
want too much money in advance. But in Geoffrey Ludlow 
Mr. Stompff took a special interest, regarding him as a man 
out of whom, if properly worked, great profit and fame were 
to be made. He had paid several visits to Elm Lodge, 
ostensibly for the purpose of seeing how the Brighton-Espla- 
nade picture was progressing; but with this he combined 
the opportunity of inspecting the domestic arrangements, 
and noting whether they were such as were likely to " suit 
his book." No man more readily understood the dispiriting 



Mr. Stompff' s Doubts. 241 

influence of a slattern wife or a disorderly home upon the 
work that was to be done. 

"I've seen 'em," he used to say, "chock-full of promise, 
and all go to the bad just because of cold meat for dinner, 
or the house full of steam on washing-days. They'd rush 
away, and go off — public-house or any where — and then 
good-bye to my work and the money they've had of me ! 
What I like best 's a regular expensive woman, — fond of her 
dress and going about, and all that, — who makes a man 
stick to it to keep her going. That's when you get the work 
out of a cove. So I'll just look-up Ludlow, and see how 
he's goin' on." 

He did "look-up" Ludlow several times; and his sharp 
eyes soon discovered a great deal of which he did not 
approve, and which did not seem likely to coincide with his 
notions of business. He had taken a dislike to Margaret 
the first time he had seen her, and his dislike increased on 
each subsequent visit. There was something about her 
which he could scarcely explain to himself, — a "cold stand- 
offishness," he phrased it, — which he hated. Margaret 
thought Mr. Stompff simply detestable, and spite of Geoff's 
half-hints, took no pains to disguise her feelings. Not that 
she was ever demonstrative — it was her calm quiet insouciance 
that roused Mr. Stompff 's wrath. " I can't tell what to 
make of that woman," he would say; "she never gives 
Ludlow a word of encouragement, but sits there yea-nay, by 
G — , lookin' as though she didn't know he was grindin' his 
fingers off to earn money for her ! She don't seem to take 
any notice of what's goin' on ; but sits moonin' there, lookin' 
straight before her, and treatin' me and her husband as if we 
was dirt ! Who's she, I should like to know, to give herself 
airs and graces like that? It was all very well when Ludlow 
wanted a model for that Skyllar picture ; but there's no 
occasion for a man to marry his models, that I've heard of 
— leastways it ain't generally done. She don't seem to 
know that it's from me all the money comes, by the way she 
treats me. She don't seem to think that that pretty house 
and furniture, and all the nice things which she has, are 
paid for by my money. She's never a decent word to say 
to me. Damme, I hate her !" 

And Mr. Stompff did not content himself by exploding in 
this manner. He let off this safety-valve of self-communion 



242 Land at Last. 

to keep himself frem boiling over ; but all the cause for his 
wrath still remained, and he referred to it, mentally, not 
unfrequently. He knew that Geoffrey Ludlow was one of 
his greatest cards ; he knew that he had obtained a certain 
mastery over him at a very cheap rate ; but he also knew that 
Ludlow was a man impressible to the highest degree, and that 
if he were preoccupied or annoyed, say by domestic trouble 
for instance — and there was nothing in a man of Geoffrey's 
temperament more destructive to work than domestic trouble 
— he would be incapable of earning his money properly. 
Why should there be domestic trouble at Elm Lodge ? Mr. 
Stompff had his ears wider open than most men, and had 
heard a certain something which had been rumoured about 
at the time of Geoff's marriage ; but he had not paid much 
attention to it. There were many ateliers which he was in 
the habit of frequenting, — and the occupants of which 
turned out capital pictures for him, — where he saw ladies 
playing the hostess's part whose names had probably never 
appeared in a marriage-register; but that was nothing to 
him. Most of them accepted Mr. Stompff's compliments, 
and made themselves agreeable to the great entrepreneur, 
and laughed at his coarse story and his full-flavoured joke, 
and were only too delighted to get them, in conjunction 
with his cheque. But this wife of Ludlow's was a woman of 
a totally different stamp; and her treatment of him so 
worried Mr. Stompff that he determined to find out more 
about her. Charley Potts was the most intimate friend of 
Ludlow's available to Mr. Stompff, and to Charley Potts Mr, 
Stompff determined to go. 

It chanced that on the morning which the great picture- 
dealer had selected to pay his visit, Mr. Bowker had strolled 
into Charley Potts's rooms, and found their proprietor hard 
at work. Mr. Bowker's object, though prompted by very 
different motives from those of Mr. Stompff, was identically 
the same. Old William had heard some of those irrepressible 
rumours which, originating no one knows how, gather force 
and strength from circulation, and had come to talk to Mr. 
Potts about them. " Dora in the Cornfield " had progressed 
so admirably since Bowker's last visit, that after filling his 
pipe he stood motionless before it, with the unlighted lucifer 
in his hand. 

" Ton my soul, I think you'll do something some day, 



Mr. Stomfiff's JDoubts. 243 

young 'un!" were his cheering words. "That's the real 
thing ! Wonderful improvement since I saw it ; got rid oi 
the hay-headed child, and come out no end. Don't think 
the sunlight's quite that colour, is it ? and perhaps no reason 
why those reaping-parties shouldn't have noses and mouths 
as well as eyes and chins. Don't try scamping, Charley, — 
you're not big enough for that; wait till you're made an R.A., 
and then the critics will point out the beauties of your 
outline; at present you must copy nature. And now" — 
lighting his pipe — "how are you?" 

"O, I'm all right, William," responded Mr. Potts; "all 
right, and working like any number of steam-engines. Orson, 
sir — if I may so describe myself — Orson is endowed with 
reason. Orson has begun to find out that life is different 
from what he imagined, and has gone in for something 
different." 

" Ha !" said old Bowker, eyeing the young man kindly as 
he puffed at his pipe; "it's not very difficult to discover 
what's up now, then." 

" O, I don't want to make any mystery about it," said 
Charley. "The simple fact is, that having seen the folly of 
what is called a life of pleasure — " 

" At thirty years of age !" interrupted Bowker. 

" Well, what then ? — at thirty years of age ! One does 
not want to be a Methuselah like you before one discovers 
the vanity, the emptiness, the heartlessness of life." 

" Of course not, Charley ?" said Bowker, greatly delighted. 
"Goon!" 

" And I intend to — to — to cut it, Bowker, and go in for 
something better. It's something, sir, to have something to 
work for. I have an end in view, to — " 

" Well, but you've always had that. I thought that your 
ideas were concentrated on being President of the Academy, 
and returning thanks for your health, proposed by the Prime 
Minister." 

" Bowker, you are a ribald. No, sir ; there is a spur to 
my ambition far beyond the flabby presidentship of that 
collection of dreary old parties — " 

"Yes, I know; and the spur is marked with the initials 
M. L. That it, Master Charley?" 

" It may be, Bowker, and it may be not. Meanwhile, my 
newly-formed but unalterable resolutions do not forbid the 

B. » 



244 Land at Last. 

discussion of malt-liquor, and Caroline yet understands the 
signal-code." 

With these words, Mr. Potts proceeded to make his 
ordinary pantomimic demonstration at the window, and, 
when the beer arrived, condescended to give up work for a 
time ; and, lighting a pipe and seating himself in his easy- 
chair, he entered into conversation with his friend. 

"And suppose the spur were marked with M. L.," said 
he, reverting to the former topic, after a little desultory 
conversation, — " suppose the spur were marked with M. L,, 
what would be the harm of that, Bowker?" 

"Harm!'' growled old Bowker; "you don't imagine 
when you begin to speak seriously of such a thing that I, of 
all people, should say there was any harm in it ? I thought 
you were chaffing at first, and so I chaffed ; but I'm about 
the last man in the world to dissuade a young fellow with 
the intention and the power to work from settling himself in 
life with a girl such as I know this one to be. So far as I 
have seen of her, she has all our Geoff's sweetness of 
disposition combined with an amount of common-sense and 
knowledge of the world which Geoff never had and never 
will have." 

"She's A i, old boy, and that's all about it; but we're 
going a-head rather too quickly. I've pot said a word to 
her yet, and I scarcely know whether — " 

" Nonsense, Charley ! A man who is worth any thing 
knows right well whether a woman cares for him or not ; 
and knows in what way she cares for him too. On this 
point I go back to my old ground again, and say that 
Geoffrey Ludlow's sister could not be dishonest enough to 
flirt and flatter and play the deuce with a man. There's too 
much honesty about the family ; and you would be in a very 
different state of mind, young fellow, if you thought there 
was any doubt as to how your remarks would be received in 
that quarter, when you chose to speak." 

Mr. Potts smiled, and pulled his moustache, triumphantly 
now, not doubtfully as was his wont. Then his face settled 
into seriousness, as he said : 

" You're right, William, I think. I hope so, please God ! 
I've never said so much as this to any one, as you may guess ; 
but I love that girl with all my heart and soul, and if only 
the dealers will stick by me, I intend to tell her that same 



Mr. Stompff' s Doubts. 245 

very shortly. But what you just said has turned my thoughts 
into another channel — our Geoff." 

"Well, what about our Geoff?" asked Mr. Bowker, 
twisting round on his seat, and looking hard at his friend. 

"You must have noticed, Bowker — probably much more 
than I have, for you're more accustomed to that sort of 
thing — that our Geoff's not right lately. There's something 
wrong up there at Elm Lodge, that I can't make out, — that 
I daren't think of. You remember our talks both before 
and after Geoff's marriage ? Well, I must hark back upon 
them. He's not happy, William — there, you have the long 
and the short of it ! I'm a bad hand at explaining these 
matters, but Geoff's not happy. He's made a mistake ; and 
though I don't think he sees it himself — or if he does, he 
would die sooner than own it — there can be no doubt about 
it. Mrs. Ludlow does not understand, — does not appreciate 
him ; and our Geoff's no more like our crony of old days 
than I'm like Raffaelle. There, that's it, as clear as I can 
put it !" 

Bowker waited for an instant, and then he said : 

" I've tried hard enough, God knows ! — hard enough to 
prevent myself from thinking as you think, Charley ; but all 
to no purpose. There is a cloud over Geoff's life, and I 

fear it springs from Some one knocking. Keep 'em 

out, if possible ; we don't want any one boring in here just 
now." 

But the knocker, whoever he was, seemed by no means 
inclined to be kept out. He not only obeyed the regular 
directions and "tugged the trotter," but he afterwards gave 
three distinct and loud raps with his fist on the door, which 
was the signal to the initiated ; and when the door was 
opened and the knocker appeared in the person of Mr. 
Stompff, further resistance was useless. 

The great man entered the room with a light and airy 
step and a light and airy address. "Well, Charley, how are 
you ? Come to give you a look-up, you see. Hallo ! who's 
this? — Mr. Bowker, how do you do, sir?" in a tone which 
meant, "What the devil do you do here?" — "how are you, 
sir? — Well, Charley, what are you at? Going to the bad, 
you villain, — going to the bad !" 

" Not quite that, I hope, Mr. Stompff—" 

" Working for Canichc, eh ? That's the same thing, just 



246 Land at Last. 

the same thing ! I've heard all about it. You've let that 
miserable Belgian get old of you, eh ? This is it, is it ? Gal 
in a cornfield and mowers? what you call 'em— reapers? 
That's it ! reapers, and a little child. Some story, eh ? O, 
ah ! Tennyson ; I don't know him — not bad, by Jove ! not 
half bad! it's Caniche's?" 

" Yes ; that's Caniche's commission." 

" Give you fifty more than he's given to make it over to 
me. You won't, of course not, you silly feller ! it's only my 
joke. But look here, mind you give me the refusal of the 
next. I can do better for you than Caniche, He's a poor 
paltry chap. 1 go in for great things, — that's my way, Mr. 
Bowker." 

" Is it?" growled old William over his pipe ; " then you go 
in also for great pay, Mr. Stompff, I suppose?" 

"Ask your friend Ludlow about that. He'll tell you 
whether I pay handsomely or not, sir. — By the way, how is 
your friend Ludlow, Potts?" 

"He's all right, I believe." 

" And his wife, how's she ?" 

There was something in his tone and in the expression 
of his eyes which made Mr. Potts say : 

" Mrs. Ludlow is going on very well, I believe," in a tone 
of seriousness very unusual with Charley. 

"That's all right," said Mr. Stompff. "Going on very 
well, eh ? Every body will be glad to hear that, and Ludlow 
in partickler. Going on very well — in a regular domestic 
quiet manner, eh? That's all right. Hasn't been much 
used to the domestic style before her marriage, I should 
think, eh ?" 

'Whatever you may think, I should advise you not to 
say much, Mr. Stompff," said Bowker. " I don't think 
Geoff would much like hearing those things said of his wife ; 
I'm sure I should not of mine." 

" N-no ; but you have not a wife ; I — I mean living, Mr. 
Bowker," said Stompff with a sneer. 

William Bowker swallowed down a great lump rising in 
his throat, and forcibly restrained the involuntary clenching 
of his fists, as he replied, " No, you're right there, Mr. 
Stompff; but still I repeat my advice." 

" O, I shall say nothing. People will talk, you know, 
whether I'm silent or not, and people will want to know who 



Threatening. 247 

Mrs. Ludlow was before she married Ludlow, and why she's 
so silent and preoccupied, and why she never goes into 
society, and why she faints away when she looks at photo- 
graph-books, and so on. But I didn't come here to talk 
of Mrs. Ludlow. Now, Potts, mon brave, let us discuss 
business." 

When the great man took his departure, after proposing 
handsome terms to Charley Potts for a three years' engage- 
ment, Bowker said : "There's more in what we were saying 
when that blatant ruffian came in than I thought for, 
Charley. The news of Geoff's domestic trouble has got 
wind." 

" I'm afraid so. But what did Stompff mean about the 
fainting and the photograph-book ?" 

" God knows ! probably an invention and a lie. But 
when people like Stompff begin to talk in that way, it's bad 
for those they talk about, depend upon it." 



CHAPTER XIV 

THREATENING. 

GEOFFREY LUDLOW felt considerable anxiety about 
his wife after the day of their inauspicious visit 
to Lord Caterham ; and as anxiety was quite a foreign 
element in Geoff's placid temperament, it did not sit well 
upon him, and it rendered him idle and desultory. He 
:ould not make up his mind as to the true source of his 
anxiety, — the real spring of his discomfort. Margaret's 
health was very good \ her naturally fine physique shook off 
illness easily and rapidly, and her rare beauty was once more 
irradiated with the glow of health and strength. Yet 
Geoffrey's inquietude was not lessened. He loved this 
strange woman — this woman who compelled admiration, 
indeed, from others, but won love only from him with 
passionate and intense devotion. But he was ill at ease 
with her, and he began to acknowledge to himself that it 
was so. He knew, he felt, that there was some new element, 
some impalpable power in their lives, which was putting 
asunder those who had never been very closely united in 



243 Land at Last. 

real bonds of sympathy and confidence, with an irresistible, 
remorseless hand, — invisible and sure as that of Death. 

There are no words to tell what this good fellow suffered 
in his kindly, unselfish, simple way, as day by day the con- 
viction forced itself upon him that the woman he had so 
loved, the woman for whom he lived, and worked, and 
thought, and hoped, was more and more divided from him 
by some barrier — all the more impassable because he 
could not point to it and demand an explanation of its 
presence, or utter a plea for its removal. He would sit in 
his painting-room quite idle, and with a moody brow — -unlike 
the Geoff Ludlow of old times — and think and puzzle himself 
about his wife ; he would sometimes work, in short desultory 
fits of industry, desperately, as though putting thought from 
him by main force ; and then he would meet Margaret, at 
meals or other times of association, with so indifferent an 
assumption of being just as usual, that it was wonderful she 
did not notice the change in her husband. But Geoffrey 
did not interest her, and Margaret did not observe him with 
any curiosity. The state of mind of this ill-assorted pair at 
this time was very curious, had there been any one to under- 
stand and analyse it. 

"What can it be?" Geoffrey would ask himself. "I 
cannot make it out. She does not take any interest in any 
thing. I thought all women loved their children at least, 
and the coldest warmed to their infants ; but she does not." 

Geoffrey had ceased to wonder at Margaret's coldness to 
him. She had always been cold, and latterly her reserve and 
silence had increased. She made no effort to hide the ennui 
which wholly possessed her; she made no attempt to 
simulate the interest in his occupations which she had never 
felt in more than a lukewarm degree. His perceptions were 
not very quick ; but when he did see a thing, he was apt to 
understand and reason upon it, and he reasoned upon this 
now ; he pondered upon it and upon his marriage, and he 
wondered when he remembered the joy and hope with 
which he had entered upon the pretty, comfortable new 
home and the quiet industrious life. What had come to it 
all ? "What had changed it, and yet left it the same ? He 
had not failed in any duty to this woman ; he had not given 
her less, but more than he had promised ; for he was much 
better off than he had hoped to be, and she had the com- 



Threatening. 249 

rnand of every shilling he earned. Never had an unkind 
word, a negligent act, a failure in the tenderest of household 
kindnesses, recorded itself in her memory against this man, 
who was her preserver, her protector, her husband. Surprise, 
trouble, vague apprehension, above all, the bewilderment of 
inexplicable wrong, were in Geoffrey's mind ; but not a 
touch of bitterness against her. He remembered the story 
she had told him, and the promise he had pledged to her, 
and his generous heart rested in the assurance she had then 
given him, and sought no farther. His was not the nature 
which would count up the items in the bargain between 
them, and set down the large balance that really existed on 
his side. What had he given her ? To answer this question 
aright, knowledge must have been had of her whole life, and 
all its depths of suffering, of actual physical want sounded ; 
all her love of luxury, all her incapacity to bear privation, 
all her indolence, her artistic sensuousness, her cultivated 
power of enjoyment, must have been known and weighed. 

He had given her ease, security, respectability, — a name, 
a home which was comfortable to the verge of luxury, which 
included all that any woman could reasonably desire who 
had voluntarily accepted a life upon the scale which it im- 
plied — a home to which his industry and his love constantly 
added new comforts and decorations. Geoffrey never thought 
of these things, — he did not appraise them; nor did his 
generous heart dwell upon the sacrifice he had. made, the 
risk he had incurred, in short, upon the extraordinary impru- 
dence of his marriage. His nature was too magnanimous, 
and not sufficiently practical for such considerations ; he 
thought of nothing but the love he had given her, — the love 
she did not seem to understand, to care for, — and he 
wondered, in his simple way, why such love, so deep and 
quiet, so satisfied with home and her, could not make her 
more happy and cheerful. Poor Geoffrey, calm and peace 
were the conditions of life in which alone he could find or 
imagine happiness, and they were just those which were 
detestable to Margaret. It is possible that, had she been 
caught from the depths of her degradation and despair in the 
grasp of a nature stronger and more violent than her own, 
the old thrall might have fallen from her, and she might have 
been swnyed by the mingled charm and authority, the fierce- 
ness, the delight, the fenr of a great passion, so preoccupying 



250 Land at Last. 

that she would have had no time for retrospect, so entrancing 
that she would have been forced to live in the present. But 
the hand that had raised her from the abyss was only gentle 
and tender; it lacked the force which would have wrung 
submission from her afterwards, the power to imply that it 
could wound as well as caress, — and its touch had no potency 
for that perverted nature. What had she given him ? Just 
her beauty, — nothing more. She was his wife, and she 
cared for him no more than she cared for the furniture of 
her rooms and the trinkets in her jewel-case (poor things, 
she thought, which once would have been unworthy of her 
wearing, but chosen with all Geoff's humble science, and 
bought with the guerdon of many a day of Geoff's hard 
work) ; he was her child's father ; and the child bored her a 
little more unendurably than all the rest. Indeed, all the 
rest was quiet — which at least was something — but the child 
was not quiet; and Geoffrey made a fuss about it — a cir- 
cumstance which lent a touch of impatience to her distaste. 
He talked about the infant, — he wanted to know if she 
thought her boy's eyes were like her own ? and whether she 
would like him to be an artist like his father ? He talked 
about the boy's eyes, and Lionel's electric glances were 
haunting her troubled soul ; he babbled about the boy's 
future, when she was enduring the tortures of Tantalus in 
her terrible longing for the past. 

The child throve, and Geoffrey loved the little creature 
with a vigilant affection curious and beautiful to see. When 
he felt that the hopes he had built upon the infant, as a new 
and strong tie between himself and Margaret, as a fresh 
source of interest, something to awaken her from her torpidity, 
were not destined to be realised, he turned, in the intensity 
of his disappointment and discomfiture, to the child itself, 
and sought — unconsciously it may be, at least unavowedly to 
himself — to fill up the void in his heart, to restore the warmth 
to his home, through the innocent medium of the baby. 
The child did not resemble his mother, even after the difficult- 
to-be-discovered fashion of likenesses in babyhood. When 
he opened his eyes, in the solemn and deliberate way in 
which young children look out upon the mysterious world, 
they did not disclose violet tints nor oval-shaped heavy lids ; 
they were big brown eyes, like Geoffrey's, and the soft rings 
of downy hair, which the nurse declared to be " the beauti- 



Threatening. 251 

it il ' <st curls she ever see on an 'ead at 'is age," were not 
golden but dark brown. Geoffrey held numerous conferences 
with the nurse about her charge, and might be found many 
times in the day making his way with elaborate caution, and 
the noiseless step which is a characteristic of big men, up the 
nursery stair ; and seen by the curious, had there been any 
to come there, gazing at the infant lying in his cradle, or on 
his nurse's knee, with a wistful rueful expression, and his 
hands buried in the pockets of his painting-coat. 

He never found Margaret in the nursery on any of these 
occasions, and she never evinced the slightest interest in the 
nursery government, or responded to any of his ebullitions of 
feeling on the subject. Of course the servants were not slow 
to notice the indifference of the mother, and to comment 
upon it with unreserved severity. Margaret was not a 
favourite at any time — " master " being perfection in their 
minds — and her cold reserve and apathy impressing the 
domestics, who could not conceive that "a good home" 
could be despicable in even the most beautiful eyes, very 
unfavourably. 

Margaret was arraigned before the domestic tribunal, 
unknown to herself; though, had she known it, the circum- 
stance would have made no impression upon her. Her cold 
pride would at all times have rendered her indifferent to 
opinion; and now that indifference, weariness, and distaste 
had entire possession of her, she had not even cared to hide 
the dreary truth from her husband's mother and sister. 
What had become of her resolutions with regard to them ? 
Where were her first impulses of gratitude ? Gone — sunk in 
the Dead Sea of her overmastering passion — utterly lost 
beneath the tide of her conscienceless selfishness. She could 
not strive, she could not pretend, she could not play any 
part longer. Why should she, to whom such talk was 
twaddle of the trashiest description, try to appear interested 
because she had given birth to Geoffrey's child ? Well, 
there was the child ; let them make much of it, and talk 
nonsense to it and about it. What was Geoffrey's child to her, 
or Geoffrey's mother, or — she had gone very near to saying 
Geoffrey himself either, but something dimly resembling 
a pang of conscience stopped her. He was very good, very 
honest, very kind ; and she was almost sorry for him, — as 
nearly sorry as she could be for any but herself; and then 



2$ 2 Land at Last. 

the tide of that sorrow for herself dashed over and swept all 
these trifling scraps of vague regret, of perhaps elementary 
remorse, away on its tumultuous waves. 

She was cursed with such keen memory, she was haunted 
with such a terrible sense of contrast ! Had it been more 
dreadful, more agonising, when she was a wanderer in the 
pitiless streets, — starving, homeless, dying of sheer want ; 
when the bodily suffering she endured was so great that it 
be'numbed her mind, and deadened it to all but craving for 
food and shelter ? The time of this terrible experience lay 
so far in the past now, that she had begun to forget the 
reality of the torture ; she had begun to undervalue its inten- 
sity, and to think that she had purchased rescue too dear. 
Too dear !— she, whose glance could not fall around her 
without resting on some memorial of the love she had won ; 
she, whose daily life was sheltered from every breath of ill 
and care ! She had always been weary ; now she was 
growing enraged. Like the imprisoned creatures of the 
desert and the jungle, in whom long spells of graceful 
apathetic repose are succeeded by fierce fits of rebellious 
struggle, she strove and fought with the gentle merciful fate 
which had brought her into this pretty prison and supplied 
her with dainty daily fare. It had all been bearable — at 
least until now — and she had borne it well, and never turned 
upon her keeper. But the wind had set from the lands of 
sun and fragrance, from the desert whose sands were golden, 
whose wells were the sparkling waters of life and love, and 
she had scented the old perfume in the breeze. All the 
former instincts revived, the slight chain of formal uncon- 
genial habit fell away, and in the strength of passion and 
beauty she rebelled against .her fate. Perhaps the man she 
loved and longed for, as the sick long for health or the ship- 
wrecked for a sail, had never seen her look so beautiful as she 
looked one day, when, after Mrs. Ludlow and her daughter, 
who had come to lunch at Elm Lodge, had gone away, and 
Geoffrey, puzzled and mortified more than ever, had returned 
to his painting-room, she stood by the long window of the 
drawing-room, gazing out over the trim little space which 
bloomed with flowers and glowed in the sunshine, with eyes 
which seemed indeed as if their vision cleft distance and 
disdained space. Her cheeks, usually colourless, were 
touched with a faint rose-tinge ; and the hurry and excitement 



Threatening. 253 

of her thoughts seemed to pervade her whole frame, which 
was lighted by the rays of the afternoon sun, from the rich 
coils of her red-gold hair to the restless foot which tapped 
the carpet angrily. As she stood, varying expressions flitted 
o\ cr her face like clouds ; but in them all there was an 
intensity new to it, and which would have told an observer 
that the woman who looked so was taking a resolution. 

Suddenly she lifted her hands above her head to the full 
extent of her arms, then tore the twisted fingers asunder with 
a moan, as if of pain or hunger, and letting them fall by-her 
side, flung herself into a chair. 

" Have you heard any thing of Lord Caterham lately?" 
asked Mrs. Geoffrey Ludlow of her husband, a few days 
after his mother's visit, just as Geoffrey, having breakfasted, 
was about to retire to his painting-room. She asked the 
question in the most careless possible manner, and without 
removing her eyes from the Times, which she was reading ; 
but Geoffrey was pleased that she should have asked it at all, 
• — any sign of interest on Margaret's part in any one for 
whom he cared being still precious to Geoffrey, and becoming 
rarer and more rare. 

"No, dear," he replied; "Annie said she would write as 
soon as Lord Caterham should be well enough to see me. 
I suppose I may tell her, then, that she may come and see 
you. You are quite well now, Margaret?" 

" O yes, quite well," she replied ; and then added, with 
the faintest flicker of colour on her cheek, " Lord Caterham's 
brother is not at home, I believe. Have you ever seen 
him ?" 

"Captain Brakespere ? No, not I. There's something 
wrong about him. I don't understand the story, but Annie 
just mentioned that Lord Caterham had been in great distress 
about him. Well, Margaret, I'm off now to the Esplanade." 

He looked wistfully at her ; but she did not speak or lift 
up her eyes, and he went out of the room. 

If there was trouble of the silent and secret kind in 
Geoffrey's home, there was also discontent of the outspoken 
sort at his mother's cheerful house in Brompton. 

Mrs. Ludlow was wholly unprepared to find that Margaret 
cared so little for her child. It was with no small indignation 
that she commented upon Margaret's demeanour, as she and 
her daughter sat together; and deeper than her indignation 



254 Land at Last. 

lay her anxiety, and a vague apprehension of evil in store for 
her darling son. 

"She is sulky and discontented, — that's what she is," 
repeated Mrs. Ludlow ; " and what she can want or wish for 
that she has not got passes my comprehension." 

Miss Ludlow said that perhaps it was only accidental. 
She would be sorry to think Margaret had such faults of 
temper to any confirmed degree. It would be dreadful for 
dear old Geoff, who was so sweet-tempered himself, and who 
never could understand unamiable persons. But she added 
she did not think Geoff perceived it. She was sure he 
would never think that Margaret was not fond of the chjld. 

" O yes, he does perceive it," said Mrs. Ludlow; " I can 
see that very plainly ; I saw it in his face when he came up 
to the nursery with us, and she never offered to stir ; and 
did you not notice, Til, that when I asked her what the 
doctor said about vaccinating baby, she looked at me quite 
vacantly, and Geoffrey answered ? Ah, no ; he knows it well 
enough, poor fellow ; and how ever he is to get through life 
with a woman with a bad temper and no heart, I'm sure I 
can't tell." 

Geoffrey had never relaxed in his attention to his mother. 
In the early days of his marriage, when he had persuaded 
himself that there was nothing in the least disappointing in 
Margaret's manner, and that he was perfectly happy ; in 
those days to which he looked back now, in the chill dread 
and discomfort of the present, as to vanished hours of 
Paradise, he had visited his mother, sent her presents, written 
short cheery notes to her and Til, and done every thing in 
his power to lesson their sense of the inevitable separation 
which his marriage had brought about. His love and his 
happiness had had no hardening or narrowing effect upon 
Geoffrey Ludlow. They had quickened his perceptions and 
added delicacy to his sympathies. But there was a difference 
now. Geoffrey felt unwilling to see his mother and sister ; 
he fe t that their perception of Margaret's conduct had been 
distinct, and their disapproval complete; and he shrank 
from an interview which must include avoidance of the 
subject occupying all their minds. He would not willingly 
have had Margaret blamed, even by implication, by others ; 
though there was something more like anger than he had 
ever felt or thought he could feel towards her in his gentle 



Threatening. 255 

heart, as he yielded to the conviction that she had no love 
for her child. 

Thus it happened that Geoffrey did not see his mother and 
sister for a week just at this time, during which interval there 
was no change in the state of affairs at home. He wrote, 
indeed, to Til, and made cheery mention of the boy and of 
his picture, which was getting on splendidly, and at which 
he was working so hard that he could not manage to get so 
far as Brompton for a day or two yet, but would go very 
soon ; and Margaret sent her love. So Geoffrey made out 
a letter which might have been written by a blundering 
schoolboy — a letter over which his mother bent sad and 
boding looks, and Til had a " good cry." Though Geoffrey 
had not visited them lately, the ladies had not been alto- 
gether deprived of the society of men and artists. The 
constancy with which Charley Potts paid his respects was 
quite remarkable ; and it fell out that, seeing Matilda rather 
out of spirits, and discerning that something was going 
wrong, Charley very soon extracted from Til what that 
something was, and they proceeded to exchange confidences 
on the subject of Geoffrey and his beautiful wife. Charley 
informed Matilda that none of "our fellows" who had been 
introduced to Mrs. Geoffrey liked her ; and as for Stompff, 
" he hates her all out, you know," said the plain-spoken 
Charley ; " but I don't mind that, for she's a lady, and 
Stompff — he— he's a beast, you know." 

When Geoffrey could no longer defer a visit to his mother 
without the risk of bringing about questions and expostula- 
tions which must make the state of things at home openly 
known, and place him in the embarrassing position of being 
obliged to avow an estrangement for which he could assign 
no cause, he went to Brompton. The visit was not a pleasant 
one, though the mother and sister were even more demon- 
strative in their affectionate greeting than usual, and though 
they studiously avoided any reference to the subject in their 
minds and in his. But this was just what he dreaded ; they 
did studiously avoid it ; and by doing so they confirmed all 
his suspicions, they realised all his fears. Geoffrey did not 
even then say to himself that his marriage was a mistake, 
and his mother and sister had discovered it; but had his 
thoughts, his misgivings been put into words, they must 
have taken some such shape. They talked energetically 



256 Land at Last. 

about the child, and asked Geoff all sorts of feminine ques- 
tions, which it would have affected a male listener rather 
oddly to have heard Geoff answer with perfect seriousness, 
and a thorough acquaintance with details. He had several 
little bits of news for them ; how Mr. Stompff, reminiscent of 
his rather obtrusive promise, had sent the clumsiest, stumpiest, 
ugliest lump of a silver mug procurable in London as a 
present to the child, but had not presented himself at Elm 
Lodge ; how Miss Maurice had been so delighted with the 
little fellow, and had given him a beautiful embroidered frock, 
and on Lord Caterham's behalf endowed him with a salver 
" big enough to serve himself up upon, mother," said Geoff, 
with his jolly laugh : "I put him on it, and carried him 
round the room for Annie to see." 

Beyond the inevitable inquiries, there was no mention 
made of Margaret ; but when his mother kissed him at 
parting, and when Til lingered a moment longer than usual, 
with her arms round his neck, at the door, Geoffrey felt the 
depth and bitterness of the trouble that had come into his 
life more keenly, more chillingly than he had felt it yet. 

" This shall not last," he said, as he walked slowly towards 
home, his head bent downwards, and all his features clouded 
with the gloom that had settled upon him. " This shall not 
last any longer. I have done all I can ; if she is unhappy, 
it is not my fault ; but I must know why. I cannot bear it ; 
I have not deserved it. I will keep silence no longer. She 
must explain what it means." 



CHAPTER XV 

LADY BEAUPORT'S PLOT COLLAPSES. 

ALTHOUGH the flame of life, at its best a feeble flicker, 
now brightened by a little gust of hope, now deadened 
by an access of despair, — had begun steadily to lessen in 
Lord Caterham's breast, and he felt, with that consciousness 
which never betrays, that his interest in this world, small as 
it had been, was daily growing less, he had determined to 
prevent the execution of one act which he knew would be 
terribly antagonistic to the welfare of her whom his heart 



Lady Bcauporfs Plot collapses. 257 

held dearest. We, fighting the daily battle of life, going 
forth each morning to the encounter, returning each eve 
with fresh dints on our harness, new notches in our swords, 
and able to reckon up the cost and the advantages gained 
by the day's combat, are unable to appreciate the anxieties 
and heart-burnings, the longings and the patience of those 
whom we leave behind us as a coi'fis de reserve, apparently 
inactive, but in reality partaking of all the worst of the contest 
without the excitement of sharing it. The conflict that was 
raging amongst the Beauport family was patent to Caterham; 
he saw the positions taken up by the contending parties, 
had his own shrewd opinion as to their being tenable or the 
reverse, calmly criticised the various points of strategy, and 
laid his plans accordingly. In this it was an advantage to 
him that he was out of the din and the shouting and the 
turmoil of the battle ; nobody thought of him, any more 
than any one in the middle of an action thinks of the 
minister in his office at home, by whom the despatches are 
written, and who in reality pulls the strings by which the 
man in scarlet uniform and gold-laced cocked-hat is guided . 
and to whom he is responsible. Lord Caterham was physi- 
cally unfitted for the conduct of strategic operations, but he 
was mentally qualified for the exercise of diplomacy in the 
highest degree ; and diplomacy was required in the present 
juncture. 

In his solitary hours he had been accustomed to recal his 
past life in its apparently insignificant, but to him important 
ramifications ; — the red south wall is the world to the snail 
that has never known other resting-place ; — and in these 
lays of illness and languor he reverted more and more to 
his old means of passing the time. A dull retrospect— a 
weary going over and over again of solitude, depression, and 
pain. Thoughts long since forgotten recurred to him as in 
the silence of the night he passed in review the petty incidents 
of his uneventful career. He recollected the burning shame 
which had first possessed him at the knowledge of his own 
deformity ; the half envy, half wonder, with which he had 
gazed at other lads of his own age; the hope that had 
dawned upon him that his parents and friends might feel for 
him something of the special love with which Tiny Tim was 
regarded in that heartfullest of all stories, The Christmas 
Carol; how that wondrous book had charmed him, when, a 



258 Land at Last. 

boy of ten or twelve years old, he had first read It ; how, 
long before it had been seen by either his father or mother, 
he had studied and wept over it ; how, prompted by a feeling 
which he could not analyse, he had induced Lord Beauport 
to read it, how he knew — intuitively, he was never told — that 
it had been shown to his mother ; and how that Christmas- 
tide he had been treated with consideration and affection 
never before accorded to him — had been indeed preferred to 
Lionel, greatly to that young gentleman's astonishment and 
disgust. It did not last long, that halcyon time ; the spells 
of the romancer held the practical father and the fashionable 
mother in no lengthened thrall ; and when they were 
dissipated, there was merely a crippled, deformed, blighted 
lad as their eldest hope and the heir to their honours. Tiny 
Tim borne aloft on his capering father's shoulders ; Tiny 
Tim in his grave, — these were images to wring the heart not 
unpleasantly, and to fill the eyes with tears of which one 
was rather proud, as proof of how easily the heart was 
wrung : but for a handsome couple — one known as a beau 
gaiyon, the other as a beauty — to have to face the stern 
fact that their eldest son was a cripple was any thing but 
agreeable. 

Untrusted — that was it. Never from his earliest days 
could he recollect what it was to have trust reposed in him. 
He knew — he could not help knowing — how superior he was 
in ability and common-sense to any in that household ; he 
knew that his father at least was perfectly aware of this ; and 
yet that Lord Beauport could not disconnect the idea of 
bodily decrepitude and mental weakness; and therefore 
looked upon his eldest son as little more than a child in 
mind. As for Caterham's mother, the want of any feeling 
in common between them, the utter absence of any maternal 
tenderness, the manifest distaste with which she regarded 
him, and the half-wearied, half-contemptuous manner in 
vvhich she put aside the attempts he made towards a better 
understanding between them, had long since begun to tell 
upon him. There was a time when, smarting under her 
lifelong neglect, and overcome by the utter sense of desolation 
weighing him down, he had regarded his mother with a 
feeling bordering on aversion ; then her presence, occasion- 
ally bestowed upon him — always for her own purposes — 
awakened in him something very like disgust. But he had 



Lady Beaufiort's Plot collapses. 259 

long since conquered that : he had long since argued himself 
out of that frame of mind. Self-commune had done its 
work ; the long, long days and nights of patient reflexion and 
self-examination, aided by an inexplicable sense of an over- 
hanging great change, had softened and subdued all that 
had been temporarily hard and harsh in Lord Caterham's 
nature ; and there was no child, kneeling at its little bedside, 
whose " God bless dear papa and mamma !" was more 
tenderly earnest than the blessing which the crippled man 
constantly invoked on his parents. 

He loved them in a grave, steady, reverential, dutiful 
way — loved them even with greater warmth, with more 
complete fondness than he had done for years; but his" 
love never touched his instinct of justice — never warped his 
sense of what was right. He remembered how, years 
before, he had been present, a mere boy, sitting perched up 
in his wheelchair, apparently forgotten, in an obscure corner 
of his father's study at Homershams, while Lord Beauport 
administered a terrific " wigging," ending in threats of gaols 
and magistrates, to an unlucky wretch accused of poaching 
by the head-keeper ; and he recollected how, when the man 
had been dismissed with a severe warning, he had talked to 
and argued with his father, first on the offence, and then on 
Lord Beauport's administration of justice, with an air of 
grave and earnest wisdom which had amused his father 
exceedingly. He had held the same sentiments throughout 
his dreary life — he held them now. He knew that a plot 
was formed by his mother to bring his brother Lionel back 
to England, with a view to his marriage with Annie Maurice, 
and he was determined that that plot should not succeed. 
Why ? He had his reasons, as they had theirs. To his own 
heart he confessed that he loved Annie with all the depth 
of his soul ; but that was not what prompted him in this 
matter. He should be far removed from the troubling 
before that ; but he had his reason, and he should keep it to 
himself. They had not trusted in him, though they had 
been compelled to take allies from the outside — dear old 
Algy Barford, for instance — but they had not trusted him, 
and he would not reveal his secret. Was Lionel to marry 
Annie Maurice, eh ? No ; that should never be. He 
might not be there himself to prevent it ; but he would leave 
behind him instructions with some one, which would — 

s st 



s6o Land at Last. 

Ah ! he had hit upon the some one at once, — Geoffrey 
Ludlow, Annie's oldest and dearest friend, honest as the day, 
brave and disinterested ; not a clever business man perhaps, 
but one who, armed with what he could arm him with, must, 
with his sheer singleness of purpose, carry all before him. 
So far, so good ; but there would be a first step which they 
would take perhaps before he could bring that weapon into 
play. His mother would contrive to get Lionel into the 
house, on his return, to live with them, so that he might have 
constant opportunities of access to Annie. That was a point 
in which, as he gleaned, she placed the greatest confidence. 
If her Lionel had not lost all the fascinating qualities which 
had previously so distinguished him; if he preserved his 
looks and his address, this young girl — so inexperienced in 
the world's ways, so warm-hearted and impressible — would 
have no choice but to succumb. 

Caterham would see about ' that at once. Lionel should 
never remain en permanence in that house again. Lady 
Beauport would object of course. She had, when she had 
set her mind upon an object, a steady perseverance in its 
accomplishment ; but neither her patience nor her diplomacy 
were comparable to his, when he was equally resolved, as 
she should find. No ; on that point at least he was deter- 
mined. His darling, his treasure, should not even be 
compelled to run the gauntlet of such a sin-stained courtship 
as his brother Lionel's must necessarily be. What might be 
awaiting her in the future, God alone knew : temptations 
innumerable ; pursuit by fortune-hunters : all those trials 
which beset a girl who, besides being pretty and rich, has no 
blood-relative on whom to reckon for counsel and aid. He 
would do his best to remedy this deficiency ; he would leave 
the fullest instructions, the warmest adjurations to good 
Geoffrey Ludlow — ah ! what a pity it was that Ludlow's 
wife was not more heartful and reliable ! — and he would 
certainly place a veto upon the notion that Lionel, on his 
return, should become an inmate of the house. He knew 
that this must be done quickly, and he determined to take 
the first opportunity that presented itself. That opportunity 
was not long in coming ; within ten days after Margaret's 
fainting-fit, Lady Beauport paid one of her rare maternal 
visits, and Lord Caterham saw that his chance had arrived. 

There was an extra glow of geniality in Lady Beauport's 



Lady Bcauporfs Plot collapses. 261 

manner that morning, and the frosty peck which she had 
made at her son's cheek had perhaps a trifle more warmth 
in it than usual. She seated herself instead of standing, as 
was her wont, and chatted pleasantly. 

" What is this I hear about your having a lady fainting in 
your room, Arthur?" said she, with one of her shiniest 
smiles. (What calumny they spread about enamel ! Lady 
Beauport smiled perpetually, and her complexion never 
cracked in the slightest degree.) "You must not bring 
down scandal on our extremely proper house. She did 
faint, didn't she ?" 

" O, yes, mother, she did faint undoubtedly — went what 
you call regularly 'off,' I believe." 

" Ah ! so Stephens told Timpson. Well, sir, don't you 
think that is reprehensible enough ? A lady comes to call 
on a bachelor, and is discovered fainting ! Why? Heaven 
knows — " and her ladyship gave an unpleasantly knowing 
chuckle. 

" Well, I must admit that no one knows, or ever will 
know why, save that the lady was probably over-fatigued, 
having only just recovered from a serious illness. But then, 
you know, the lady's husband was with her, so that — " 

" O, yes, I heard all about that. You are a most prudent 
swain, Caterham ! The lady's husband with her, indeed ! 
Most prudent ! You always remind me of the play — I don't 
know what it's called — something about a French milliner 
and a screen — " 

"' The School for Scandal,' you mean?" 

" Very likely. I've forgotten the name, but I know I 
recollect seeing Farren and Miss Foote and all of them in it. 
And I so often think of the two brothers : you so quiet and 
reserved, like one ; and the other so rackety and buoyant, so 
full of high spirits and gaiety, like our Lionel. Ah me !" 
and Lady Beauport heaved a deep sigh and clasped her 
aands sadly in front of her. 

Caterham smiled — rather a sad dreary smile — as he said, 
" Let us trust that quiet and reserve don't always have the 
effect which they produced on the gentleman to whom you 
are alluding, mother. But I may as well let you know the 
real story of Mrs. Ludlow's fainting-fit, which seems to have 
become rather warped in its journey. I had asked her 
husband to call upon me on a matter of business ; and he 



262 Land at Last. 

foolishly brought her — only just out of her confinement — 
with him. The consequence was, that, as we were talking, 
and she was looking through a book of photographs, she 
fainted away." 

"Ay! I heard something of that sort. She must be a 
curious person to be so easily affected, or it was thoughtless 
of her husband to bring her out too soon. He is an odd 
kind of man though, is he not ? Absent, and that kind of 
thing ?" 

"Ye-es; his heart is in his work, and he is generally 
thinking about it." 

" So I had imagined. What odd people you know, Arthur ! 
Your acquaintances all seem such strange people — so diffe- 
rent from your father's and mine ! " 

"Yes, mother," said Caterham, with a repetition of the 
sad smile ; " perhaps you're right generally. Your friends 
would scarcely care for me, and I am sure I do not care 
for them. But Geoffrey Ludlow became known to me 
through his old intimacy with Annie — our Annie." 

"Ye-es. I scarcely know why ' our Annie,' though. You 
see, both your father and I have many blood-relations, more 
or less distant, on either side; and it would not be par- 
ticularly convenient if the mere fact of their being blood- 
relations compelled us to acknowledge them as 'ours.' Not 
that I've any thing to say against Miss Maurice, though ; on 
the contrary, she's a very charming girl. At one time I 
thought that — However, let that pass. She holds quite a 
different position now; and I think every one will allow 
that my treatment of her is what it should be." 

" Of course, mother. No one would dream of doubting it." 

" Well, perhaps not, Arthur ; but you're such a recluse, 
you know, that you're scarcely a judge of these things — one 
does not know what people won't say. The world is so full 
of envy and jealousy, and all that, I'm sure my position in 
regard to the matter is any thing but an agreeable one. 
Here I am, having to act chaperon to this girl, who is known 
now as an heiress ; and all kinds of men paying her attention, 
simply on account of her wealth. What I suffer when we're 
out together, you can't conceive. Every night, wherever we 
may be, there is a certain set of men always hanging about 
her, waiting for an introduction — persons whose acquaintance 
cannot do her the slightest good, and with whom she is yet 



Lady Beauporfs Plot collapses. 263 

quite as willing to talk or to dance as she is with the most 
available parti in London." 

Caterham smiled again. " You forget, mother, that she's 
not accustomed to the kind of life — " 

" No ; I don't forget anything of the kind, Arthur. It is 
her not being accustomed to it that is my greatest trouble. 
She is as raw as a child of seventeen after her first drawing- 
room. If she had any savoit /aire, any knowledge of society, 
I should be perfectly at ease. A girl of any appreciation 
would know how to treat these people in an instant. Why, 
I know myself, that when I was far younger than Miss 
Maurice, I should have felt a kind of instinctive warning 
against two-thirds of the men with whom Annie Maurice is 
as talkative and as pleasant as though they were really 
persons whose acquaintance it was most desirable that she 
should make." 

"And yet Annie is decidedly a clever girl." 
" So much the worse, Arthur, — so much the worse. The 
more reason that she is utterly unlikely to possess or to be 
able readily to acquire the peculiar knowledge which would 
fit her to act under the circumstances of which I am speaking. 
Your clever people — such at least as are called clever by you 
and those whom you cultivate— are precisely the people who 
act idiotically in worldly affairs, who either know nothing or 
who set at defiance the convenances of society, and of whom 
nothing can be made. That man — no, let me give you an 
example — that man who dined here last Thursday on your 
invitation — Professor Somebody, wasn't he ? — I've heard of 
him at that place where they give the scientific lectures in 
Albemarle Street — was any thing ever seen like his cravat, 
or his shoes, or the way in which he ate his soup ? — he trod 
on my dress twice in going down to dinner, and I heard 
perfectly plainly what Lady Clanronald said to that odious 
Mr. Beauchamp Hogg about him." 

" My father spoke to me in the highest terms about — " 
"Of course he did; that's just it. Your father knows 
nothing about this sort of thing. It all falls upon me. If 
Annie Maurice were to make a m'esalliance, or, without going 
so far as that, were to permit herself to be engaged to some 
penniless fortune-hunter, and were to refuse — as she very 
likely would, for she has an amount of obstinacy in her com- 
position, I am inclined to think, which one very seldom finds 



264 Land at Last. 

■ — Lo listen to the remonstrances of those whose opinion ought 
to have weight with her, it is I, not your father, who would 
be blamed by the world.'" 

" Your troubles certainly seem greater, mother, than I, in 
my bachelor ignorance, could have imagined." 

" They are not comprehensible, even after my explanation, 
Arthur, by those who have not to undergo them. There is 
scarcely any thing in my married life which has given me 
such pleasure as the thought that, having no daughters, 
I should be relieved of all duties of chaperonage ; that I 
should not be compelled to go to certain places unless I 
wished ; and that I should be able to leave others at what 
hours I liked. And now I find this very duty incumbent 
upon me." 

"Well, but, my dear mother, surely Annie is the very 
last girl in the world for whom it is necessary to make 
any such sacrifices. She does not care about going out ; 
and when out, she seems, from all she says to me, to have 
only one anxiety, and that is — to get home again as soon as 
possible." 

"Ay, from all she says to you, Arthur; but then you 
know, as I've said before, you are a regular old bachelor, 
without the power of comprehending these things, and to 
whom a girl certainly would not be likely to show her real 
feelings. No ; there's only one way to relieve me from my 
responsibility." 

"And that is— " 

" And that is by getting her married." 

"A-ah!" Caterham drew a long breath — it was coming 
now. 

" Married," continued Lady Beauport, " to some one 
whom we know, and in whom we could trust ; some one 
who would keep her near us, so that we could still keep up 
an interest in her; and you — for I know how very much 
attached you are to her, Arthur — could see her constantly, 
without trouble to yourself. That is the only manner in 
which I can see a conclusion to my anxiety on Annie's 
account." 

Lady Beauport endeavoured to .speak in the same tone in 
which she had commenced the conversation ; but there was 
a quiver in her voice and a tremulous motion in her hands 
which showed Caterham plainly that she was ill at ease. 



Lady Bcauporfs Plot collapses. 265 

" And do you think that such a husband would be easily 
found for Annie, mother?" said he, looking up at her with 
one of his steady piercing glances from under his eyebrows. 

" Not easily, of course ; but still to be found, Arthur." 

" From your manner, you seem to have already given the 
subject some attention. May I ask if you have any one 
in prospect who would fulfil all the conditions you have 
laid down in the first place, and in the second would be 
likely to be acceptable to Annie ?" 

" How very singular you are, Arthur ! You speak in a 
solemn tone, as if this were the most important matter in 
the world." 

" It is sufficiently important to Annie at least. Would 
you mind answering me ?" 

Lady Beauport saw that it was useless fighting off the 
explanation any further. Her project must be disclosed 
now, however it might be received by her eldest son ; and 
she determined to bring her stateliest and most dignified 
manner to its disclosure : so she composed her face to its 
usual cold statuesque calmness, folded her wandering hands 
before her, and in a voice in which there was neither break 
nor tremor, said : 

" No : I will answer you quite straightforwardly. I think 
that it would be an admirable thing for all parties if a 
marriage could be arranged between Annie Maurice and 
your brother Lionel. Lionel has position, and is a distin- 
guished-looking man, of whom any woman might be proud : 
and the fortune which Mr. Ampthill so oddly left to Miss 
Maurice will enable him to hold his own before the world, 
and — how strangely you look, Caterham ! — what is the 
matter ? — what were you about to say ?" 

"Only one thing, mother — that marriage must never be." 

" Must never be !" 

" Never. Hear me out. I have kept accurate account 
of all you have said, and will judge you in the first place 
simply out of your own mouth. Your first point was that 
Miss Maurice should be married to some one whom we 
knew, and whom we could trust. Could we trust Lionel ? 
Could we trust the man whose father's head was bowed 
to the dust, whose mother's eyes were filled with tears at 
the mere recital of his deeds of sin and shame ? Could 
we trust the man who was false to his frieixd, and who 



266 Land at Last. 

dragged down into the dirt not merely himself, but al! 
who bore his name ? You spoke of his position — what 
is that, may I ask? Are we to plume ourselves on our 
relationship with an outcast ? or are we to hold out as 
an inducement to the heiress the fact that her intended 
husband's liberty is at the mercy of those whom he has 
swindled and defrauded ?" 

" Caterham ! Arthur ! you are mad — you — " 

" No, mother, I am simply speaking the truth. I should 
not even have insisted on that in all its bitterness, had 
I not been goaded to it by your words. You talk of 
devoting the fortune which Annie Maurice has inherited 
to setting Lionel right before the world, and you expect 
me to sit quietly by ! Why, the merest instincts of justice 
would have made me cry out against such a monstrous 
proposition, even if Lionel had not long since forfeited, as 
Annie has long since won, all my love." 

" A-h ! " said Lady Beauport, suddenly pausing in her 
tears, and looking up at him, — " long since won all your 
love, eh ? I have often suspected that, Caterham ; and 
now you have betrayed yourself. It is jealousy then, — 
mere personal jealousy, — by which all your hatred of your 
younger brother is actuated !" 

Once more the dreary smile came over Lord Caterham's 
face. "No, mother," said he, "it is not that. I love 
Annie Maurice as I love the sun, as I love health, as I 
love rest from pain and weariness ; and with about as much 
hope of winning either. You could confer on me no greater 
happiness than by showing me the man deserving of her 
love ; and the thought that her future would have a chance 
of being a happy one would relieve my life of its heaviest 
anxiety. But marry Lionel she shall not; nay, more, she 
shall not be exposed to the chance of communication with 
him, so long as I can prevent it." 

" You forget yourself, Lord Caterham ! You forget not 
merely whose house you are in, but to whom you are 
speaking." 

" I trust not, mother. I trust I shall never — certainly 
not now, at this time — forget my duty to you and to my 
father; but I know more than I can ever divulge even 
to you. Take for granted what I tell you ; let what you 
know of Lionel's ways and conduct suffice to prove that 



Lady Beauport s Plot collapses. 267 

a marriage between him and Annie is impossible, — that 
you would be culpable in lending yourselves to such a 
scheme." 

" I have not the least idea of what you are talking about, 
Arthur," said Lady Beauport after a minute's pause. " You 
appear to have conceived some ridiculous idea about your 
brother Lionel, into the discussion of which you must really 
excuse my following you. Besides, even if you had good 
grounds for all you say, you are too late in making the 
remonstrance. Lionel arrived in England the day before 
yesterday." 

Lord Caterham started, and by the help of his stick raised 
himself for a moment. 

" Lionel returned ! Lionel in England, mother ! After 
all his promises, after the strict conditions on which my 
father purchased for him immunity from the penalties of 
his crime ! How is this? Does Lord Beauport know it?" 

Lady Beauport hesitated. She had been betrayed by her 
vexation into saying more than she had intended, and had 
placed Lionel in his brother's power. Lord Caterham, she 
had hoped, would have received her confidence in a different 
spirit, — perhaps she had calculated on his being flattered by 
its novelty, — and would assist her in breaking the fact of 
the prodigal's return to his father, and winning him over 
to her way of thinking. She had by no means forgotten 
the painful solemnity with which the Earl had renounced 
Lionel, and the formal sentence of exclusion which had 
been passed against him ; but Lady Beauport understood 
her husband well, and had managed him with tolerable 
success for many years. He had forbidden all mention 
of their son to her, as to every other member of the family ; 
\>ut Lady Beauport had been in the habit of insinuating 
an occasional mention of .him for some time past ; and it 
had not been badly received. Perhaps neither the father 
nor the mother would have acknowledged to themselves 
or to each other the share in this change of feeling which 
belonged to the unmistakable daily decline of Lord Cater- 
ham's health. They never alluded to the future, but they 
saw it, and it influenced them both. Lady Beauport had 
not looked for Lionel's return so soon; she had expected 
more patience — it might have been appropriately called 
more decency — from him ; she had thought her difficulties 



268 Land at Last. 

would be much lessened before his return; but he had 
neglected her injunctions, and forestalled her instructions : 
he had arrived, — there was no help for it j she must meet 
the difficulty now. She had been meeting difficulties, origi- 
nating from the same source, for many years ; and though 
Caterham's manner annoyed her deeply, she kept her courage 
up. Her first instinct was to evade her son's last question, 
by assuming an injured tone in reference to his first. So 
she said, 

" O, it's all very well to talk about his promises, Arthur ; 
but, really, how you could expect Lionel to remain in 
Australia I cannot understand." 

" I did not, and I do not, form any expectations what- 
ever concerning Lionel, mother," her son replied, in a steady 
voice, and without releasing her from his gaze; "that is 
beside the question. Lionel has broken his pledged word 
to my father by returning here,— you know he has, — and 
he has not given any career a fair trial. I can guess the 
expectations with which he has returned," he continued 
in a bitter tone ; " and God knows I trust they are not 
unfounded. But my place is not vacant yet; and he has 
forfeited his own. You cannot restore it to him. Why has 
he returned?" 

Lady Beauport did not dare to say, "Because I wrote 
to him, and told him to come home, and many Annie 
Maurice, and buy the world's fickle favour over again with 
her money, while waiting for yours ;" but her silence said 
it for her ; and Caterham let his eyes drop from her face in 
disgust, as he coldly said, 

" Once more, madam, I ask you, is my father aware that 
Lionel is in London ?" 

"No," she replied boldly, seeing things were at the worst; 
" he is not. I tell you, Caterham, if you tell him, before I 
have time and opportunity to break it to him, and set your 
father against him, and on keeping his word just as a point 
of pride, I will never forgive you. What good could it 
do you ? What harm has Lionel done you ? How could 
he stay in that horrid place ? He's not a tradesman, I 
should think ; and what could he do there ? nor an Irish- 
man, I hope ; so what could he be there ? The poor boy 
was perfectly miserable ; and when I told him to come 
home, I thought you'd help me, Arthur, — I did indeed." 



Lady Bcaufiorfs Plot collapses. 269 

A grave sad smile passed over Lord Caterham's worn 
face. Here was his proud mother trying to cajole him for 
the sake of the profligate son who had never felt either 
affection or respect for her. Had a less object been at 
stake he might have yielded to the weakness which he 
rather pitied than despised ; yielded all the more readily 
that it would not be for long. But Annie's peace, Annie's 
welfare was in danger, and his mother's weakness could 
meet with no toleration at his hands. 

" Listen to me, mother," he said ; " and let this be no 
more mentioned between us. I am much exhausted to- 
day, and have little strength at any time ; but my resolve 
is unshaken. I will not inform my father of Lionel's return, 
if you think you can manage to tell him, and to induce 
him to take it without anger more successfully than I can. 
But while I live Lionel Brakespere shall never live in the 
same house with Annie Maurice ; and whether I am living 
or dead, I will prevent his ever making her his wife. This 
is her proper home ; and I will do my best to secure her 
remaining in it j but how long do you suppose she would 
stay, if she heard the plans you have formed?" Lady 
Beauport attempted to speak, but he stopped her. " One 
moment more, mother," he said, "and I have done. Let 
me advise you to deceive my father no more for Lionel. 
He is easily managed, I have no doubt, by those whom 
he loves and admires ; but he is impatient of deceit, being 
very loyal himself. Tell him without delay what you have 
done ; but do not, if even he takes it better than you hope, 
and that you think such a suggestion would be safe, — <lo 
not suggest that Lionel should come here. Let me, for 
my little time, be kept from any collision with my father. 
I ask this of you, mother." O, how the feeble voice softened, 
and the light in the eyes deepened ! " And my requests 
are neither frequent nor hard to fulfil, I think." 

He had completely fathomed her purpose ; he had seen 
the projects she had formed, even while he was speaking 
the first sentences ; and had defeated them. By a violent 
effort she controlled her temper, — perhaps she had never 
made so violent an effort, even for Lionel, before, — and 
answered, — 

" I hardly understand you, Arthur ; but perhaps you are 



270 Land at Last. 

right. At all events, you agree to say nothing to your 
father, — to leave it to me?" 

" Certainly," said Caterham. He had won the day ; but 
his mother's manner had no sign of defeat about it, no more 
than it had sign of softening. She rose, and bade him 
good-morning. He held her hand for a moment, and his 
eyes followed her wistfully, as she went out of his room. 

As she passed through the passage, just outside her son's 
door she saw a stout keen-looking man sitting on the bench, 
who rose and bowed as she passed. 

When Stephens answered the bell, he found his master 
lying back, bloodless and almost fainting. After he had 
administered the usual restoratives, and when life seemed 
flowing back again, the valet said, 

" Inspector Blackett, my lord, outside." 

Lord Caterham made a sign with his hand, and the stout 
man entered. 

" The usual story, Blackett, I suppose?" 

" Sorry to say so, my lord. No news. Two of my men 
tried Maidstone again yesterday, and Canterbury, thinking 
they were on the scent there ; but no signs of her." 

" Very good, Blackett," said Caterham faintly ; " don't 
give in yet." 

Then, as the door closed behind the inspector, the poor 
sufferer looked up heavenward and muttered, " O Lord, 
how long — how long?" 



The whole Truth. ayi 



§0ok i\t Cljirir. 

CHAPTER I. 

THE WHOLE TRUTH. 

N" O one who knew Geoffrey Ludlow would have recog- 
nised him in the round-shouldered man with the 
prone head, the earth-seeking eyes, the hands plunged 
deeply in his pockets, plodding home on that day on which 
he had determined that Margaret should give him an expla- 
nation of her conduct towards him. Although Geoff had 
never been a roisterer, had never enlisted in thm. army 
of artists whose members hear "the chimes o' midnight," 
had always been considered more or less slow and steady, 
and was looked upon as one of the most respectable repre- 
sentatives of the community, yet his happy disposition had 
rendered him a general favourite even amongst those ribalds, 
and his equable temper and kindly geniality were proverbial 
among all the brethren of the brush. Ah, that equable 
temper, that kindly geniality, — -where were they now? Those 
expanded nostrils, those closed lips, spoke of very different 
feelings ; that long steady stride was very different from 
the joyous step which had provoked the cynicism of the 
City-bound clerks ; that puckered brow, those haggard i :heeks, 
could not be recognised as the facial presentments of the 
Geoffrey Ludlow of a few short months since. 

In good sooth he was very much altered. The mental 
worrying so long striven against in silence had begun to tell 
upon his appearance ; the big broad shoulders had become 
rounded ; the gait had lost its springy elasticity, the face 
was lined, and the dark-brown hair round the temples and 
the long full beard were dashed with streaks of silver. 
These changes troubled him but little. Never, save perhaps 
during the brief period of his courtship of Margaret, had he 
given the smallest thought to his personal appearance ; 
yellow soap and cold water had been his cosmetics, and his 
greatest sacrifice to vanity had been to plare himself at rare 



272 Land at Last. 

intervals under the hairdresser's scissors. But there were 
other changes to which, try as he might, he could not blind 
himself. He knew that the very source and fount of his 
delight was troubled, if not sullied; he knew that all his 
happiness, so long wished for, so lately attained, was trem 
bling in the balance ; he felt that indefinable, indescribable 
sensation of something impending, something which would 
shatter his roof-tree and break up that home so recently 
established. As he plunged onward through the seething 
streets, looking neither to the right nor to the left, he 
thought vaguely of the events of the last few months of 
his life — thought of them, regarding them as a dream. 
How long was it since he was so happy at home with his 
old mother and with Til ? when the monthly meeting of 
the Titians caused his greatest excitement, and when his 
hopes of fame were yet visionary and indistinct? How 
long was it since he had met her that fearful night, and 
had drunk of the beauty and the witchery which had had 
such results? He was a man now before the world with 
a name which people knew and respected, with a wife whose 
beauty people admired ; but, ah ! where was the quietude, 
the calm unpretending happiness of those old days ? 

What could it mean ? Had she a wish ungratified ? He 
taxed his mind to run through all the expressions of her 
idle fancy, but could think of none with which he had 
not complied. Was she ill ? He had made that excuse 
for her before her baby was born ; but now, not merely 
the medical testimony, but his own anxious scrutiny told 
him that she was in the finest possible health. There was 
an odd something about her sometimes which he could 
not make out— an odd way of listening vacantly, and not 
replying to direct questions, which he had noticed lately, and 
only lately; but that might be a part of her idiosyncrasy. 
Her appetite too was scarcely as good as it used to be ; 
but in all other respects she seemed perfectly well. There 
might have been some difficulty with his mother and sister, 
he had at first imagined ; but the old lady had been wonder- 
fully complaisant ; and Til and Margaret, when they met, 
seemed to get on excellently together. To be sure his 
mother had assumed the reins of government during Mar- 
garet's confinement, and held them until the last moment 
compatible with decency; but her regime had been over 



The whole Truth. ^73 

long since ; and Margaret was the last person to struggle 
for power so long as all trouble was taken off her hands. 
Had the neighbours slighted her, she might have had some 
cause for complaint; but the neighbours were every thing 
that was polite, and indeed at the time of her illness had 
shown her attention meriting a warmer term. What could 
it mean ? Was there — No ; he crushed out the idea 
as soon as it arose in his mind. There could not be 
any question about — any one else — preying on her spirits? 
The man, her destroyer — who had abandoned and deserted 
her — was far away; and she was much too practical a 
woman not to estimate all his conduct at its proper worth. 
No amount of girlish romance could survive the cruev 
schooling which his villany had subjected her to; and there 
was no one else whom she had seen who could have had 
any influence over her. Besides, at the first, when he 
had made his humble proffer of love, she had only to have 
told him that it could not be, and he would have taken care 
that her future was provided for — if not as it had been, at 
all events far beyond the reach of want. O, no, that could 
not be. 

So argued Geoff with himself — brave, honest, simple old 
Geoff, with the heart of a man and the guilelessness of a 
child. So he argued, determining at the same time that 
he would pluck out the heart of the mystery at once, what- 
ever might be at its root ; any thing would be better than 
this suspense preying on him daily, preventing him from 
doing his work, and rendering him moody and miserable. 

But before he reached his home his resolution failed, and 
his heart sunk within him. What if Margaret were silent 
and preoccupied ? what if the occasional gloom upon her 
face became more and more permanent ? Had not her 
life been full of sorrow ? and was it wonderful that the 
remembrance of it from time to time came over her ? She 
had fearlessly confided her whole story to him; she had 
given him time to reflect on it before committing himself to 
her ; and would it be generous, would it be even just, to call 
her to account now for freaks of behaviour engendered 
doubtless in the memory of that bygone time ? After all, 
what was the accusation against her? None. Had there 
been the smallest trace of levity in her conduct, how many 
eyebrows were there ready to be lifted — how many shoulders 



274 Land at Last. 

waiting to be shrugged ! But there was nothing of the 
kind; all that could be said about her was that, — all that 
could be said about her — now he thought it over, nothing 
was said about her ; all that was hinted was that her manner 
was cold and impassable ; that she took no interest in what 
was going on around her, and that therefore there must 
be something wrong. There is always something to be 
complained of. If her manner had been light and easy, 
they would have called her a flirt, and pitied him for having 
married a woman so utterly ill-suited to his staid habits. 
He knew so little of her when he married her, that he 
ran every kind of risk as to what she might really prove to 
be ; and on reflection he thought he had been exceedingly 
lucky. She might have been giddy, vulgar, loud, presuming, 
extravagant; whereas she was simply reserved and unde- 
monstrative, — nothing more. He had been a fool in thinking 
of her as he had done during the last few weeks ; he had, — 
without her intending it doubtless, for she was an excellent 
woman, — he had taken his tone in this matter from his 
mother, with whom Margaret was evidently no favourite, 
and — there, never mind — it was at an end now. She was 
his own darling wife, his lovely companion, merely to sit 
and look at whom was rapturous delight to a man of his 
keen appreciation of the beauty of form and colour ; and as 
to her coldness and reserve, it was but a temporary man- 
nerism, which would soon pass away. 

So argued Geoffrey Ludlow with himself,— brave, honest, 
simple old Geoff, with the heart of a man, and the guile- 
lessness of a child. 

So happy was he under the influence of his last thought, 
that he longed to take Margaret to his heart at once, and 
without delay to make trial of his scheme for dissipating 
her gloom; but when he reached home, the servant told 
him that her mistress had gone out very soon after he 
himself had left that morning, and had not yet returned. 
So he went through into the studio, intending to work 
at his picture; but when he got there he sunk down into 
a chair, staring vacantly at the lay-figure, arranged as usual 
in a preposterous attitude, and thinking about Margaret. 
Rousing himself, he found his palette, and commenced to 
set it ; but while in the midst of this task, he suddenly fell 
a-thinking again, and stood there mooning, until the hops 



The whole Truth. 275 

of doing any work was past, and the evening shadows were 
falling on the landscape. Then he put up his palette and 
his brashes, and went into the dining-room. He walked 
to the window, but had scarcely reached it, when he saw 
a cab drive up. The man opened the door, and Margaret 
descended, said a few hasty words to the driver, who touched 
his hat and fastened on his horse's nosebag, and approached 
the house with rapid steps. 

From his position in the window, he had noticed a 
strange light in her eyes which he had never before seen 
there, a bright hectic flush on her cheek, a tight compres- 
sion of her lips. When she entered the room he saw that 
in his first hasty glance he had not been deceived; that 
the whole expression of her face had changed from its usual 
state of statuesque repose, and was now stern, hard, and 
defiant. 

He was standing in the shadow of the window-curtain, 
and she did not see him at first ; but throwing her parasol 
on the table, commenced pacing the room. The lamp was 
as yet unlit, and the flickering firelight — now glowing a deep 
dull red, now leaping into yellow flame — gave an additional 
weirdness to the set intensity of her beautiful face. Gazing 
at her mechanically walking to and fro, her head supported 
by one hand, her eyes gleaming, her hair pushed back 
off her face, Geoffrey again felt that indescribable sinking 
at his heart; and there was something of terror in the 
tone in which, stepping forward, he uttered her name — 
"Margaret!" 

In an instant she stopped in her walk, and turning 
towards the place whence the voice came, said, " You there, 
Geoffrey?" 

" Yes, darling, — who else ? I was standing at the window 
when the cab drove up, and saw you get out. By the way, 
you've not sent away the cab, love; is he paid ?" 

" No, not yet, — he will — let him stay a little." 

" Well, but why keep him up here, my child, where there 
is no chance of his getting a return-fare ? Better pay him 
and let him go. I'll go and pay him !" and he was leaving 
the room. 

" Let him stay, please," said Margaret in her coldest 
tones ; and Geoffrey turned back at once. But as he turned 
he saw a thrill run through her, and marked the manner in, 



276 Land at Last. 

which she steadied her hand on the mantelpiece on which 
she was leaning. In an instant he was by her side. 

" You are ill, my darling ?" he exclaimed. " You have 
done too much again, and are over-fatigued — " 

"I am perfectly well," she said; "it was nothing — or 
whatever it was, it has passed. I did not know you had 
returned. I was going to write to you." 

"To write to me!" said Geoff in a hollow voice, — "to 
write to me !" 

" To write to you. I had something to tell you — and — 
and I did not know whether I should ever see you again !" 

For an instant the table against which Geoffrey Ludlow 
stood seemed to spin away under his touch, and the whole 
room reeled. A deadly faintness crept over him, but he 
shook it off with one great effort, and said in a very low 
tone, " I scarcely understand you — please explain." 

She must have had the nature of a fiend to look upon 
that large-souled loving fellow, stricken down by her words 
as by a sudden blow, and with his heart all bleeding, waiting 
to hear the rest of her sentence. She had the nature of 
a fiend, for through her set teeth she said calmly and delibe- 
rately : 

" I say I did not know whether I should ever see you 
again. That cab is detained by me to take me away from 
this house, to which I ought never to have come — which 
I shall never enter again." 

Geoff had sunk into a chair, and clutching the corner of 
die table with both hands, was looking up at her with a 
helpless gaze. 

"You don't speak!" she continued; "and I can under- 
stand why you are silent. This decision has come upon 
you unexpectedly, and you can scarcely realise its meaning 
or its origin. I am prepared to explain both to you. I 
had intended doing so in a letter, which I should have 
left behind me ; but since you are here, it is better that 
I should speak." 

The table was laid for dinner, and there was a small 
decanter of sherry close by Geoff's hand. He filled a glass 
from it and drank it eagerly. Apparently involuntarily, 
Margaret extended her hand towards the decanter ; but she 
instantly withdrew it, and resumed : 

" You know well, Geoffrey Ludlow, that when you asked 



The whole 7 ruth. 277 

me to become your wife, I declined to give you any answer 
until you had heard the story of my former life. When 
I noticed your growing interest in me— and I noticed it 
from its very first germ — I determined that before you 
pledged yourself to me — for my wits had been sharpened in 
the school of adversity, and I read plainly enough that love 
from such a man as you had but one meaning and one 
result, — I determined that before you pledged yourself to 
me you should learn as much as it was necessary for you 
to know of my previous history. Although my early life 
had been spent in places far away from London, and 
among persons whom it was almost certain I should never 
see again, it was, I thought, due to you to explain all to 
you, lest the gossiping fools of the world might some day 
vex your generous heart with stories of your wife's previous 
career, which she had kept from you. Do you follow me?" 

Geoffrey bowed his head, but did not speak. 

" In that story I told you plainly that I had been deceived 
by a man under promise of marriage ; that I had lived with 
him as his wife for many months ; that he had basely 
deserted me and left me to starve, — left me to die — as 
I should have died had you not rescued me. You follow 
me still ?" 

She could not see his face now, — it was buried in his 
hands ; but there was a motion of his head, and she pro- 
ceeded : 

" That man betrayed me when I trusted him, used me 
while I amused him, deserted me when I palled upon him. 
He ruined, you restored me ; he left me to die, you brought 
me back to life ; he strove to drag me to perdition, you 
to raise me to repute. I respected, I honoured you ; but 
I loved him ! yes, from first to last I loved him ; infatuated, 
mad as I knew it to be, I loved him throughout ! Had 
I died in those streets from which you rescued me, I should 
have found strength to bless him with my last breath. 
When I recovered consciousness, my first unspoken thought 
was of him. It was that I would live, that I would make 
every exertion to hold on to life, that I might have the 
chance of seeing him again. Then dimly, and as in a 
dream, I saw you and heard your voice, and knew that 
you were to be a portion of my fate. Ever since, the image 
of that man has been always present before me ; his soft 



278 Land at Last. 

words of love have been always ringing in my ears ; his 
gracious presence has been always at my side. I have 
striven and striven against the infatuation. Before Heaven 
I swear to you that I have prayed night after night that 
I might not be led into that awful temptation of retrospect 
which beset me ; that I might be strengthened to love 
you as you should be loved, to do my duty towards you 
as it should be done. All in vain, all in vain ! That one 
fatal passion has sapped my being, and rendered me utterly 
incapable of any other love in any other shape. I know 
what you have done for me — more than that, I know what 
you have suffered for me. You have said nothing ; but 
do you think I have not seen how my weariness, my cold- 
ness, the impossibility of my taking interest in all the little 
schemes you have laid for my diversion, have irked and 
pained you ? Do you think I do not know what it is for 
a full heart to beat itself into quiet against a stone ? I 
know it all ; and if I could have spared you one pang, 
I swear I would have done so. But I loved this man ; 
ah, how I loved him ! He was but a memory to me then ; 
but that memory was far, far dearer than all reality ! He is 
more than a memory to me now ; for he lives, and he is in 
London, and I have seen him !" 

Out of Geoffrey Ludlow's hands came, raised up suddenly, 
a dead white face, with puckered lips, knit brows, and odd 
red streaks and indentations round the eyes. 

" Yes, Geoffrey Ludlow," she continued, not heeding the 
apparition, "I have seen him, — now, within this hour, — 
seen him, bright, well, and handsome — O, so handsome ! — 
as when I saw him first; and that has determined me. 
While I thought of him as perhaps dead ; while I knew him 
to be thousands of miles away, I could bear to sit here, to 
drone out the dull monotonous life, striving to condone the 
vagrancy of my thoughts by the propriety of my conduct, — 
heart-sick, weary, and remorseful. Yes, remorseful, so far 
as you are concerned; for you are a true and noble man, 
Geoffrey. But now that he is here, close to me, I could not 
rest another hour, — I must go to him at once. Do you 
hear, Geoffrey, — at once?" 

He tried to' speak, but his lips were parched and dry, and 
he only made an inarticulate sound. There was no 
mistaking the flash of his eves, however. In them Margaret 



The whole Truth, 279 

had never seen such baleful light ; so that she was scarcely 
astonished when, his voice returning, he hissed out " I know 
him !" 

"You know him?" 

"Yes; just come back from Australia — Lord Caterham's 
brother ! I had a letter from Lord Caterham to-day, — his 
brother — Lionel Brakespere ! " 

"Well," she exclaimed, "what then? Suppose it be 
Lionel Brakespere, what then, I ask — what then?" 

" Then !" said Geoffrey, poising his big sinewy arm — 
"then, let him look to himself; for, by the Lord, I'll kill 
him!" 

"What!" and in an instant she had left her position 
against the mantelpiece, and was leaning over the table at 
the corner where he sat, her face close to his, her eyes on 
his eyes, her hot breath on his cheeks — "You dare to talk 
of killing him, of doing him the slightest injury ! You dare 
to lift your hand against my Lionel ! Look here, Geoffrey 
Ludlow : you have been good and kind and generous to 
me, — have loved me, in your fashion — deeply, I know ; and 
I would let us part friends ; but I swear that if you attempt 
to wreak your vengeance on Lionel Brakespere, who has 
done you no harm — how has he injured you? — I will be 
revenged on you in a manner of which yoa little dream, but 
which shall break your heart and spirit, and humble your 
pride to the dust. Think of all this, Geoffrey Ludlow — 
think of it. Do nothing rashly, take no step that will 
madden me, and drive me to do something that will prevent 
vour ever thinking of me with regret, when I am far away." 

There was a softness in her voice which touched a chord 
in Geoffrey Ludlow's breast. The fire faded out of his eyes ; 
his hands, which had been tight-clenched, relaxed, and 
spread out before him in entreaty ; he looked up at Margaret 
through blinding tears, and in a broken voice said, 

" When you are far away ! O, my darling, my darling, 
you are not going to leave me ? It cannot be, — it is some 
horrible dream. To leave me, who live but for you, whose 
existence is bound up in yours ! It cannot be. What have 
I done ? — what can you charge me with ? Want of affection, 
of devotion to you ? O God, it is hard that I should have 
to suffer in this way ! But you won't go, Margaret darling ? 
Tell me that— only tell me that." 



280 Land at Last. 

She shrank farther away from him, and seemed for a 
moment to cower before the vehemence and anguish of his 
appeal ; but the next her face darkened and hardened, and 
as she answered him, the passion in her voice was dashed 
with a tone of contempt. 

"Yes, I will leave you," she said, — "of course I will leave 
you. Do you not hear me ? Do you not understand me ? 
I have seen him, I tell you, and every thing which is not 
him has faded out of my life. What should I do here, or 
any where, where he is not ? The mere idea is absurd. I 
have only half lived since I lost him, and I could not live at 
all now that I have seen him again. Stay here ! not leave 
you! stay here!" She looked round the room with a glance 
of aversion and avoidance, and went on with increasing 
rapidity: "You have never understood me. How should 
you? But the time has come now when you must try to 
understand me, for your own sake ; for mine it does not 
matter — nothing matters now." 

She was standing within arm's-length of him, and her face 
was turned full upon him : but she did not seem to see him. 
She went on as though reckoning with herself, and Geoffrey 
gazed upon her in stupefied amazement ; his momentary 
rage quenched in the bewilderment of his anguish. 

" I don't deny your goodness — -I don't dispute it — I don't 
think about it at all ; it is all done with, all past and gone ; 
and I have no thought for it or you, beyond these moments 
in which I am speaking to you for the last time. I have 
suffered in this house torments which your slow nature 
could neither suffer nor comprehend — torments wholly 
impossible to endure longer. I have raged and rebelled 
against the dainty life of dulness and dawdling, the narrow 
hopes and the tame pleasures which have sufficed for you. 
I must have so raged and rebelled under any circumstances; 
but I might have gone on conquering the revolts, if I had 
not seen him. Now, I tell you, it is no longer possible, and 
I break with it at once and for ever. Let me go quietly, 
and in such peace as may be possible : for go I must and I 
will. You could as soon hold a hurricane by force or a 
ivave of the sea by entreaty." 

Geoffrey Ludlow covered his face with his hands, and 
groaned. Once again she looked at him — this time as if 
she saw him — and went on : 



The whole Truih. 281 

" Let me speak to you, while I can, of yourself — while I 
can, I say, for his face is rising between me and all the 
world beside, and I can hardly force myself to remember 
any thing, to calculate any thing, to realise any thing which 
is not him. You ask me not to leave you ; you would have 
me stay ! Are you mad, Geoffrey Ludlow ? Have you 
lived among your canvases and your colours until you have 
ceased to understand what men and women are, and to see 
facts ? Do you know that I love him, though he left me to 
what you saved me from, so that all that you have done for 
me and given me has been burdensome and hateful to me, 
because these things had no connection with him, but 
marked the interval in which he was lost to me ? Do you 
know that I love him so, that I have sickened and pined in 
this house, even as I sickened and pined for hunger in the 
streets you took me from, for the most careless word he 
ever spoke and the coldest look he ever gave me ? Do you 
know the agonised longing which has been mine, the frantic 
weariness, the unspeakable loathing of every thing that set 
my life apart from the time when my life was his ? No, you 
don't know these things ! Again I say, how should you ? 
Well, I tell them to you now, and I ask you, are you mad 
that you say, 'Don't leave me'? Would you have me stay 
with you to think of him all the weary hours of the day, all 
the wakeful hours of the night ? Would you have me stay 
with you to feel, and make you know that I feel, the tie 
between us an intolerable and hideous bondage, and that 
with every pang of love for him came a throb of loathing for 
you ? No, no ! you are nothing to me now, — nothing, 
nothing ! My thoughts hurry away from you while I speak ; 
but if any thing so preposterous as my staying with you 
could be possible, you would be the most hateful object on 
this earth to me." 

" My God ! " gasped Geoffrey. That was all. The utter, 
unspeakable horror with which her words, poured out in a 
hard ringing voice, which never faltered, filled him over- 
powered all remonstrance. A strange feeling, which was 
akin to fear of this beautiful unmasked demon, came over 
him. It was Margaret, his wife, who spoke thus ! The 
knowledge and its fullest agony were in his heart ; and yet a 
sense of utter strangeness and impossibility were there too. 
The whirl within him was not to be correctly termed thought; 



282 Land at Last. 

but there was in it something of the past, a puzzled remem- 
brance of her strange quietude, her listlessness, her acquies- 
cent, graceful, wearied, compliant ways ; and this was she, 
— this woman whose eyes burned with flames of passion and 
desperate purpose, — on those ordinarily pale cheeks two 
spots of crimson glowed, — whose lithe frame trembled with 
the intense fervour of the love which she was declaring for 
another man ! Yes, this was she ! It seemed impossible ; 
but it was true. 

" I waste words," she said ; "I am talking of things 
beside the question, and I don't want to lie to you. Why 
should I ? There has been nothing in my life worth having 
but him, nothing bearable since I lost him, and there is 
nothing else since I have found him again. I say, I must 
leave you for your sake, and it is true ; but I would leave 
you just the same if it was not true. There is nothing 
henceforth in my life but him." 

She moved towards the door as she spoke, and the action 
seemed to rouse Geoffrey from the stupefaction which had 
fallen upon him. She had her hand upon the door-handle 
though, before he spoke. 

" You are surely mad !" he said ! " I think so. — I hope so ; 
but even mad women remember that they are mothers. 
Have you forgotten your child, that you rave thus of leaving 
your home?" 

She took her hand from the door and leaned back against 
it — her head held up, and her eyes turned upon him, the 
dark eyebrows shadowing them with a stern frown. 

"I am not mad," she said; "but I don't wonder you 
think me so. Continue to think so, if you needs must 
remember me at all. Love is madness to such as you ; but 
it is life, and sense, and wisdom, and wealth to such as I 
and the man I love. At all events it is all the sanity I ask 
for or want. As for the child — " she paused for one 
moment, and waved her hand impatiently. 

"Yes," repeated Geoffrey hoarsely, — "the child !" 

"I will tell you then, Geoffrey Ludlow," she said, in a 
more deliberate tone than she had yet commanded, — "I 
care nothing for the child ! Ay, look at me with abhorrence 
now ; so much the better for you, and not a jot the worse 
for me. What is your abhorrence to me ? — what was your 
love ? There are women to whom their children are all in 



The whole Truth. 283 

all. I am not of their number; I never could have been. 
They are not women who love as I love. Where a child 
has power to sway and fill a woman's heart, to shake her 
resolution, and determine her life, love is not supreme. 
There is a proper and virtuous resemblance to it, no doubt, 
but not love — no, no, not love. I tell you I care nothing 
for the child. Geoffrey Ludlow, if I had loved you, I 
should have cared for him almost as little ; if the man I 
love had been his father, I should have cared for him no 
more, if I know any thing of myself. The child does not 
need me. I suppose I am not without the brute instinct 
which would lead me to shelter and feed and clothe him, if 
he did ; but what has he ever needed from me ? If I could 
say without a lie that any thought of him weighs with me — 
but I cannot — I would say to you, for the child's sake, if for 
no other reason, I must go. The child is the last and 
feeblest argument you can use with me — with whom indeed 
there are none strong or availing." 

She turned abruptly, and once more laid her hand upon 
the door-handle. Her last words had roused Geoffrey from 
the inaction caused by his amazement. As she coldly and 
deliberately avowed her indifference to the child, furious 
anger once more awoke within him. He strode hastily 
towards her and sternly grasped her by the left arm. She 
made a momentary effort to shake off his hold ; but he held 
her firmly at arm's-length from him, and said through his 
closed teeth : 

"You are a base and unnatural woman — more base 
and unnatural than I believed any woman could be. As 
for me, I can keep silence on your conduct to myself; 
perhaps I deserved it, seeing where and how I found you." 
She started and winced. "As for the child, he is better 
motherless than with such a mother ; but I took you from 
shame and sin, when I found you in the street, and married 
you ; and you shall not return to them if any effort of mine 
can prevent it. You have no feeling, you have no 
conscience, you have no pride ; you glory in a passion for a 
man who flung y.ou away to starve ! Woman, have you no 
sense of decency left, that you can talk of resuming your 
life of infamy and shame?" 

The husband and wife formed a group which would have 
been awful to look upon, had there been any one to witness 



284 Land at Last. 

that terrible interview, as they stood confronting one 
another, while Geoffrey spoke. As his words came slowly 
forth, a storm of passion shook Margaret's frame. Every 
gleam of colour forsook her face ; she was transformed into 
a fixed image of unspeakable wrath. A moment she stood 
silent, breathing quickly, her white lips dry and parted. 
Then, as a faint movement, something like a ghastly smile, 
crept over her face, she said : 

" You are mistaken, Geoffrey Ludlow ; I leave my life of 
infamy and shame in leaving you /" 

" In leaving me i Again you are mad !" 

" Again I speak the words of sanity and truth. If what I 
am going to tell you fills you with horror, I would have 
spared you ; you have yourself to thank. I intended to 
have spared you this final blow, — I intended to have left 
you in happy ignorance of the fact — which you blindly urge 
me to declare by your taunts. What did I say at the 
commencement of this interview? That I wanted us to 
part friends. But you will not have that. You reproach 
me with ingratitude ; you taunt me with being an unnatural 
mother; finally, you fling at me my life of infamy and 
shame ; I repeat that no infamy, no shame could attach to 
me until I became — your mistress ! " 

The bolt had shot home at last. Geoffrey leapt to his 
feet, and stood erect before her ; but his strength must have 
failed him in that instant; for he could only gasp, "My 
mistress !" 

" Your mistress. That is all I have been to you, so help 
me Heaven !" 

"My wife ! my own — married — lawful wife !" 

" No, Geoffrey Ludlow, no ! In that wretched lodging to 
which you had me conveyed, and where you pleaded your 
love, I told you — the truth indeed, but not the whole truth. 
Had you known me better then, — had you known me as 
you — as you know me now, you might have guessed that I 
was not one of those trusting creatures who are betrayed 
and ruined by fair words and beaming glances, come they 
from ever so handsome a man. One fact I concealed from 
you, thinking, as my Lionel had deserted me, and would 
probably never be seen again, that its revelation would 
prevent me from accepting the position which you were 
about to offer me ; but the day that I fled from my home at 



The whole Truth. 285 

Tenby I was married to Lionel Brakespere ; and at this 
liio-uiciit I am his wife, not merely in the sight of God, but 
by the laws of man !" 

For some instants he did not speak, he did not move 
from the chair into which he had again fallen heavily during 
her speech : he sat gazing at her, his breathing thickened, 
impeded, gasping. At length he said : 

"You're — you're speaking truth?" 

" I am speaking gospel-truth, Geoffrey Ludlow. You 
brought it upon yourself : I would have saved you from the 
knowledge of it if I could, but you brought it upon 
yourself." 

"Yes — as you say — on myself;" still sitting gazing 
vacantly before him, muttering to himself rather than 
addressing her. Suddenly, with a wild shriek, " The child ! 
O God, the child !" 

" For the child's sake, no less than for your own, you will 
hold your tongue on this matter," said Margaret, in her calm, 
cold, never-varying tone. "In this instance at least you will 
have sense enough to perceive the course you ought to take. 
What I have told you is known to none but you and me, 
and one other — who can be left with me to deal with. Let 
it be your care that the secret remains with us." 

" But the child is a " 

"Silence, man !" she exclaimed, seizing his arm, — "silence 
now, — for a few moments at all events. When I am gone, 
proclaim your child's illegitimacy and your own position if 
you will, but wait till then. Now I can remain here no 
longer. Such things as I absolutely require I will send for. 
Good-bye, Geoffrey Ludlow." 

She gathered her shawl around her, and moved towards 
the door. In an instant his lethargy left him; he sprang 
up, rushed before her, and stood erect and defiant. 

" You don't leave me in this way, Margaret. You shall 
not leave me thus. I swear you shall not pass !" 

She looked at him for a moment with a half-compassionate, 
half-interested face. This assumption of spirit and authority 
she had never seen in him before, and it pleased her moment- 
arily. Then she said quietly : 

" O yes, I shall. I am sure, Mr. Ludlow, you will not 
prevent my going to my husband !" 



286 Land at Last. 

When the servant, after waiting more than an hour for 
dinner to be rung for, came into the room to see what was 
the cause of the protracted delay, she found her master 
prostrate on the hearth-rug, tossing and raving incoherently. 
The frightened girl summoned assistance ; and when Dr. 
Brandram arrived, he announced Mr. Ludlow to be in the 
incipient stage of a very sharp attack of brain-fever. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE REVERSE OF THE MEDAL. 

IT was one of those cheerless days not unfrequent at the 
end of September, which first tell us that such fine 
weather as we have had has taken its departure, and that 
the long dreary winter is close at hand. The air was moist 
and " muggy ;" there was no freshening wind to blow away 
the heavy dun clouds which lay banked up thick, and had 
seemed almost motionless for days ; there was a dead faint 
depression over all things, which weighed heavily on the 
spirits, impeded the respiration, and relaxed the muscles. 
It was weather which dashed and cowed even the lightest- 
hearted, and caused the careworn and the broken to think 
self-destruction less extraordinary than they had hitherto 
considered it. 

About noon a man was looking out of one of the upper- 
windows of Long's Hotel on the dreary desert of Bond 
Street. He was a tall man ; who with straight-cut features, 
shapely beard, curling light hair, and clear complexion, 
would have been generally considered more than good-look- 
ing, notwithstanding that his eyes were comparatively small 
and his mouth was decidedly sensual. That he was a man 
of breeding and society one could have told in an instant — 
could have told it by the colour and shape of his hands, by 
his bearing, by the very manner in which he, leaving the 
window from time to time, lounged round the room, his 
hands plunged in his pockets or pulling at his tawny beard. 
You could have told it despite of his dress, the like of which 
had surely never been ■ seen before on any visitor to that 
select hostelry ; for he wore a thick jacket and trousers of 



The Reverse of the Medal. 287 

blue pilot-cloth, a blue flannel-shirt, with a red-silk handker- 
chief knotted round the collar, and ankle jack-boots. When 
he jumped out of the cab at the door on the previous day, 
he had on a round tarpaulin-hat, and carried over his arm ar 
enormous pea-jacket with horn buttons ; and as he brought 
no luggage with him save a small valise, and had altogether 
the appearance of the bold smugglers who surreptitiously 
vend cigars and silk-handkerchiefs, the hall-porter at first 
refused him admittance ; and it was not until the proprietor 
had been summoned, and after a close scrutiny and a whis- 
pered name had recognised his old customer, that the strange- 
looking visitor was ushered upstairs. He would have a 
private room, he said ; and he did not want it known that 
he was back just yet — did Jubber understand ? If any body 
called, that was another matter : he expected his mother and 
one or two others ; but he did not want it put in the papers, 
or any thing of that kind. Jubber did understand, and left 
Captain Lionel Brakespere to himself. 

Captain Lionel Brakespere, just at that time, could have 
had no worse company. He had been bored to death by 
the terrible monotony of a long sea-voyage, and had found 
on landing in England that his boredom was by no means at 
an end. He had heard from his mother that " that awkward 
business had all been squared," as he phrased it ; and that it 
was desirable he should return home at once, where there 
was a chance of a marriage by which " a big something was 
to be pulled off," as he phrased it again. So he had come 
back, and there he was at Long's ; but as yet he was by no 
means happy. He was doubtful as to his position in society, 
as to how much of his escapade was known, as to whether 
he would be all right with his former set, or whether he 
would get the cold shoulder, and perhaps be cut. He could 
only learn this by seeing Algy Barford, or some other fellow 
of the clique; and every fellow was of course out of town at 
that infernal time of year. He must wait, at all events, until 
he had seen his mother, to whom he had sent word of his 
arrival. He might be able to learn something of all this from 
her. Meantime he had taken a private room ; not that 
there was much chance of his meeting any one in the coffee- 
room, but some fellow might perhaps stop there for the night 
on his way through town ; and he had sent for the tailor, 
and the hair-cutter fellow, and that sort of thing, and was 



288 Land at Last. 

going to be made like a Christian again — not like the cad 
he'd looked like in that infernal place out there. 

He lounged round the room, and pulled his beard and 
yawned as he looked out of the window ; pulling himself to- 
gether afterwards by stretching out his hands and arms, and 
shrugging his shoulders and shaking himself, as if endeavour- 
ing to shake off depression. He was depressed ; there was 
no doubt about it. Out there it was well enough. He had 
been out there just long enough to have begun to settle down 
into his new life, to have forgotten old ties and old feelings ; 
but here every thing jarred upon him. He was back in 
England certainly, but back in England in a condition which 
he had never known before. In the old days, at this time of 
year, he would have been staying down at some country- 
house, or away in some fellow's yatch, enjoying himself to 
the utmost ; thoroughly appreciated and highly thought of, — 
a king among men and a favourite among women. Now he 
was cooped up in this deserted beastly place, which every 
one decent had fled from, not daring even to go out and see 
whether some old comrade, haply retained in town by duty, 
were not to be picked up, from whom he could learn the 
news, with whom he might have a game of billiards, or some- 
thing to get through the infernally dragging wearisome time. 
He expected his mother. She was his truest and stanchest 
friend, after all, and had behaved splendidly to him all 
through this terrible business. It was better that she should 
come down there, and let him know exactly how the land 
lay. He would have gone home, but he did not know what 
sort of a reception he might have met with from the governor; 
and from all he could make out from his mother's letters, it 
was very likely that Caterham might cut up rough, and say 
or do something confoundedly unpleasant. It was an in- 
fernal shame of Caterham, and just like his straightlaced 
nonsense — that it was. Was not he the eldest son, and 
what did he want moie ? It was all deuced well for him to 
preach and moralise, and all that sort of thing ; but his 
position had kept him out of temptation, else he might not 
be any better than other poor beggars, who had fallen 
through and come to grief. 

So he reasoned with himself as he lounged round and 
round the room ; and at last began to consider that he wa3 
a remarkably ill-used person. He began to hate the room 



The Reverse of the Medal. 289 

and its furniture, altered the position of the light and elegant 
little couch, thing himself into the arm-chair, drumming his 
heels upon the floor, and rose from it leaving the chintz 
covering all tumbled, and the anti-macassar all awry, drummed 
upon the window, stared at the prints already inspected — the 
'■ Hero and his Horse," which led him into reminiscences of 
seeing the old Duke with his white duck trousers and his 
white cravat, with the silver buckle gleaming at the back of 
his bowed head, at Eton on Montem days — glanced with 
stupid wonderment at Ward's " Dr. Johnson reading the 
Manuscript of the Vicar of Wakefield" which conveyed to 
him no idea whatsoever — looked at a proof of " Hogarth 
painting the Muse of Comedy," and wondered " who was the 
old cock with the fat legs, drawing." He watched the few 
people passing through the streets, the very few hansom- 
cabs with drivers listlessly creeping up and down, as though 
conscious that the chances of their being hired were dismally 
remote, the occasional four-wheelers with perambulators and 
sand-spades on the top, and bronzed children leaning out of 
the windows, talking of the brief holiday over and the work- 
a-day life about to recommence — he watched all this, and, 
watching, worked himself up to such a pitch of desperation 
that he had almost determined to brave all chances of recog- 
nition, and sally forth into the streets, when the door opened 
and a waiter entering, told him that a lady was waiting to 
speak with him. 

His mother had come at last, then? Let her be shown 
up directly. 

Of all things Lionel Brakespere abhorred a "scene ;" and 
this was likely to be an uncommonly unpleasant meeting. 
The Mater was full of feeling and that sort of thing, and 
would probably fling herself into his arms as soon as the 
waiter was gone, and cry, and sob, and all that sort of thing, 
and moan over him — make a fellow look so confoundedly 
foolish and absurd, by Jove ! Must get that over as soon as 
possible — all the hugging and that — and then find out how 
matters really stood. So he took up his position close to 
the door; and as the footsteps approached, was a little 
astonished to hear his heart thumping so loudly. 

The door opened, and passing the bowing waiter, who 
closed it behind her, a lady entered. Though her veil was 
down, Lionel saw instantly that it was not his mother. A 

u 



290 Land at Last. 

taller, younger woman, with step graceful though hurried, a» 
eager air, a strange nervous manner. As the door closed, 
she threw up her veil and stood revealed — Margaret ! 

He fell back a pace or two, and the blood rushed to his 
heart, leaving his face as pale as hers. Then, recovering 
himself, he caught hold of the table, and glaring at her, said 
hoarsely, " You here !" 

There was something in his tone which jarred upon her 
instantly. She made a step forward, and held out her hand 
appealingly — " Lionel," slie said, quite softly, " Lionel, you 
know me ?" 

"Know you?" he repeated. O yes — -I — I have that 
honour. I know you fast enough — though what you do 
here I don't know. What do you do here ?" 

" I came to see you." 

" Devilish polite, I'm sure. But — now you have seen me 
— " he hesitated and smiled. Not a pleasant smile by any 
means : one of those smiles in which the teeth are never 
shown. A very grim smile, which slightly wrinkled the lips, 
but left the eyes hard and defiant ; a smile which Margaret 
knew of old, the sight of which recalled the commencement 
of scenes of violent passion and bitter upbraiding in the old 
times ; a smile at sight of which Margaret's heart sank within 
her, only leaving her strength enough to say : "Well !" 

" Well !" he repeated — " having seen me — having fulfilled 
the intention of your visit — had you not better— go?" 

"Go!" she exclaimed — "leave you at once, without a 
look, without a word ! Go ! after all the long weary waiting, 
this hungering to see and speak with you, to pillow my head 
on your breast, and twine my arms round you as I used to 
do in the dear old days ! Go ! in the moment when I am 
repaid for O such misery as you, Lionel, I am sure, cannot 
imagine I have endured — the misery of absence from you ; 
the misery of not knowing how or where you were — whether 
even you were dead or alive ; misery made all the keener by 
recollection of joy which I had known and shared with you. 
Go ! Lionel, dearest Lionel, you cannot mean it ! Don't try 
me, now, Lionel ; the delight at seeing you again has made 
me weak and faint. I am not so strong as I used to be. 
Lionel, dearest, don't try me too much." 

Never had she looked more beautiful than now. Her 
arms were stretched out in entreaty, the rich tones of her 



The Jievcrse of 'the Medal. 291 

voice were broken, tears stood in her deep-violet eyes, and 
the dead-gold hair was pushed off the dead- white brow. Her 
whole frame quivered witii emotion — emotion which she 
made no attempt to conceal. 

Lionel Brakespere had seated himself on the corner of the 
table, and was looking at her with curiosity. He compre- 
hended the beauty of the picture before him, but he regarded 
it as a picture. On most other men in his position such an 
appeal from such a woman would have caused at least a 
temporary rekindling of the old passion ; on him it had not 
the slightest effect, beyond giving him a kind of idea that 
the situation was somewhat ridiculous and slightly annoying. 
After a minute's interval he said, with his hands in his pockets, 
and his legs swinging to and fro : 

" It's deuced kind of you to say such civil things about 
me, and I appreciate them — appreciate them, I assure you. 
But, you see the fact of the matter is, that I'm expecting my 
mother every minute, and if she were to find you here, I 
should be rather awkwardly situated." 

" O," cried Margaret, "you don't think I would compro- 
mise you, Lionel ? You know me too well for that. You 
know too well how I always submitted to be kept in the 
background — only too happy to live on your smiles, to know 
that you were feted and made much of." 

" O, yes," said Lionel, simply ; " you were always a 
deuced sensible little woman." 

" And I sha'n't be in the way, and I sha'n't bore you. 
They need know nothing of my existence, if you don't wish 
it, any more than they used. And we shall lead again the 
dear old life — eh, Lionel ?" 

"Eh!" repeated he in rather a high key, — "the dear 
old life!" 

"Ah, how happy I was !" said Margaret. "You, whose 
intervening time has been passed in action, can scarcely 
imagine how I have looked back on those days, — how eagerly 
I have longed for the time to come when I might have them 
again." 

"Gad !" said he, " I don't exactly know about my time 
being passed in action. It's been horribly ghastly and 
melancholy, and deuced unpleasant, if you mean that." 

" Then we will both console ourselves for it now, Lionel. 
We will forget all the misery we have suffered, and — " 

u 2 



292 Land at Last. 

" Y-es !" said he, interrupting her, swinging his leg a little 
more slowly, and looking quietly up into her face ; " I don't 
exactly follow you in all this." 

" You don't follow me ?" 

" N-no ! I scarcely think we can be on the same tack, 
somehow." 

" In what way ?" 

" In all this about leading again the old life, and living 
the days over again, and consoling ourselves, and that kind 
of thing." 

" You don't understand it ?" 

" Well, I don't know about understanding it. All I mean 
to say is, I'm not going to have it." 

But for something in his tone, Margaret might not have 
entirely comprehended what he sought to convey in his 
words, so enraptured was she at seeing him again. But in 
his voice, in his look, there was a bravado that was unmis- 
takable. She clasped her hands together in front of her ; 
and her voice was very low and tremulous, as she said, 

" Lionel, what do you mean ?" 

" What do I mean ? Well, it's a devilish awkward thing 
to say — I can't conceive how it came about — all through 
your coming here, and that sort of thing ; but it appears to 
me that, as I said before, you're on the wrong tack. You 
don't seem to see the position." 

" I don't indeed. For God's sake speak out !" 

" There, you see ! — that's just it ; like all women, taking 
the thing so much in earnest, and — " 

"So much in earnest? Is what would influence one's 
whole life a thing to be lightly discussed or laughed over ? 
Is—" 

"There you are again ! That's exactly what I complain 
of. What have I to do with influencing your life ?" 

"All — every thing !" 

" I did not know it, then, by Jove, — that's all I've got to 
say. You're best out of it, let me tell you. My influence is 
a deuced bad one, at least for myself." 

Once again the tone, reckless and defiant, struck harshly 
on her ear. He continued, " I was saying you did not seem 
to see the position. You and I were very good friends once 
upon a time, and got on very well together ; but that would 
never do now." 



The Reverse of the Medal. 293 

She turned faint, sick, and closed her eyes ; but remained 
silent. 

"Wouldn't do a bit," he continued. "You know I've 
been a tremendous cropper — must have thought deuced 
badly of me for cutting off in that way ; but it was my only 
chance, by Jove ; and now I've come back to try and make 
all square. But I must keep deuced quiet and mind my p's 
and q's, or I shall go to grief again, like a bird." 

She waited for a moment, and then she said faintly and 
slowly, "I understand you thoroughly now. You mean that 
it would be better for us to remain apart for some time 
yet?" 

" For some time ? — yes. Confound it all, Margaret ! — ■ 
you won't take a hint, and you make a fellow speak out and 
seem cruel and unkind, and all that kind of thing, that he 
does not want to. Look here. You ought never to have 
come here at all. It's impossible we can ever meet again." 

She started convulsively; but even then she seemed 
unable to grasp the truth. Her earnestness brought the 
colour flying to her cheeks as she said hurriedly, " Why 
impossible, Lionel, — why impossible ? If you are in trouble, 
who has such a right to be near you as I ? If you want 
assistance and solace, who should give it you before me? 
That is the mistake you made, Lionel. When you were in 
your last trouble you should have confided in me : my 
woman's wit might have helped you through it ; or at the 
worst, my woman's love would have consoled you in it." 

She was creeping closer to him, but stopped as she saw 
his face darken and his arms clasp themselves across his 
breast. 

"D — n it all!" said he petulantly; "you won't under- 
stand, I think. This sort of thing is impossible. Any sort 
of love, or friendship, or trust is impossible. I've come 
back to set myself straight, and to pull out of all the infernal 
scrapes I got myself into before I left ; and there's only one 
way to do it." 

" And that is — " 

"Well, if you will have it, you must. And that is — by 
making a good marriage." 

She uttered a short sharp cry, followed by a prolonged 
wail, such as a stricken hare gives. Lionel Brakespere 
looked up at her ; but his face never relaxed, and his arms 



294 Land at Last. 

still remained tightly folded across his breast. Then she 
spoke, very quietly and very sadly : 

" By making a good marriage ! Ah ! then I see it all. 
That is why you are annoyed at my having come to you. 
That is why you dread the sight of me, because it reminds 
you that I am in the way ; reminds you of the existence of 
the clog round your neck that prevents your taking up this 
position for which you long ; because it reminds you that 
you once sacrificed self to sentiment, and permitted yourself 
to be guided by love instead of ambition. That is what you 
mean?" 

His face was darker than ever as he said, " No such d — d 
nonsense. I don't know what you're talking about; no 
more do you, I should think, by the way in which you are 
going on. What are you talking about ?" 

He spoke very fiercely ; but she was not cowed or dashed 
one whit. In the same quiet voice she said : " I am talking 
about myself — your wife !" 

Lionel Brakespere sprung from the corner of the table on 
which he had been sitting, and stood upright, confronting 
her. 

" O, that's it, is it?" in a hard low voice. "That's your 
game, eh? I thought it was coming to that. Now, look 
here," shaking his fist at her, — " drop that for good and all ; 
drop it, I tell you, or it will be the worse for you. Let me 
hear of your saying a word about your being my wife, and, 
so help me God, I'll be the death of you ! That's plain, 
isn't it? You understand that?" 

She never winced; she never moved. Che sat quietly 
under the storm of his rage ; and when he had finished 
speaking, she said : 

"You can kill me, if you like, — you very nearly did, just 
before you left me, — but so long as I am alive I shall be 
your wife !" 

" Will you, by George ? — not if there's law in the land, I 
can tell you. What have you been doing all this time ? 
How have you been living since I've been away ? How do 
you come here, dressed like a swell as you are, when I left 
you without money? I shall want to know all that; and 
I'll find out, you may take your oath. There are heaps of 
ways of discovering those things now, -and places where a 
fellow has only to pay for it, and he may know any thing 



The Reverse of the Medal. 295 

that goes on about any body. I don't think you would 
particularly care to have those inquiries made about yon, 
eh?" 

She was silent. He waited a minute ; then, thinking 
from her silence that he had made a point, went on : 

" You understand me at last, don't you? You see pretty 
plainly, I should think, that being quiet and holding your 
tongue is your best plan, don't you ? If you're wise you'll 
do it ; and then, when I'm settled, I may make you some 
allowance — if you want it, that's to say, — if your friends 
who've been so kind to you while I've been away don't do 
it. But if you open your mouth on this matter, if you once 
hint that you've any claim on me, or send to me, or write to 
me, or annoy me at all, I'll go right in at once, find out all 
you've been doing, and then see what they'll say to you in 
the Divorce Court. You hear?" 

Still she sat perfectly silent. He was apparently pleased 
with his eloquence and its effect, for he proceeded : 

" This is all your pretended love for me, is it ? This is 
what you call gratitude to a fellow, and all that kind of 
thing? Turning up exactly when you're not wanted, and 
cooly declaring that you're going in to spoil the only game 
that can put me right and bring me home ! And this is the 
woman who used to declare in the old days that she'd die 
for me, and all that ! I declare I didn't think it of you, 
Madge !" 

"Don't call me by that name !" she screamed, roused at 
last ; " don't allude to the old days, in God's name, or I 
shall go mad ! The recollection of them, the hope of their 
renewal, has been my consolation in all sorts of misery and 
pain. I thought that to hear them spoken of by you would 
have been sufficient recompense for all my troubles : now 
to hear them mentioned by your lips agonises and maddens 
me; I—" 

" This is the old story," he interrupted ; " you haven't 
forgotten that business, I see. This is what you used to do 
before, when you got into one of these states. It frightened 
me at first, but I got used to it ; and I've seen a great deal 
too much of such things to care for it now, I can tell you. 
If you make this row, I'll ring the bell — upon my soul I 
will !" 

"O, Lionel, Lionel!" said Margaret, stretching out her 



296 Land at Last. 

hands in entreaty towards him — "don't speak so cruelly! 
You don't know all I have gone through for you — you don't 
know how weak and ill I am. But it is nothing to what I 
will do. You don't know how I love you, Lionel, my 
darling ! how I have yearned for you ; how I will worship 
and slave for you, so that I may only be with you. I don't 
want to be seen, or heard of, or known, so long as I am 
near you. Only try me and trust me, only let me be your 
own once more." 

"I tell you it's impossible," said he petulantly. "Woman, 
can't you understand ? I'm ruined, done, shut up, cornered, 
and the only chance of my getting through is by my marriage 
with some rich woman, who will give me her money in 
exchange for — There, d — n it all,— it's no use talking any 
more about it. If you can't see the position, I can't show 
it you any stronger ; and there's an end of it. Only, look 
here ! — keep your mouth shut, or it will be the worse for 
you. You understand that? — the worse for you." 

"Lionel!" She sprang towards him and clasped her 
hands round his arm. He shook her off roughly, and 
moved towards the door. 

" No more foolery," he said in a low deep voice. "Take 
my warning now, and go. In a fortnight's time you can 
write to me at the Club, and say whether you are prepared 
to accept the conditions I have named. Now, go." 

He held the door open, and she passed by him and went 
out. She did not shrink, or faint, or fall. Somehow, she 
knew not how, she went down the stairs and into the street. 
Not until she had hailed a cab, and seated herself in it, and 
Avas being driven off, did she give way. Then she covered 
her face with her hands, and burst into a passionate fit of 
weeping, rocking herself to and fro, and exclaiming, "And 
it is for this that I have exiled myself from my home, and 
trampled upon a loving heart ! O my God ! my God ; if I 
could only have loved Geoffrey Ludlow ! — O. to love as I 
do, such a man as this !" 



Gone to his Rest. 297 

CHAPTER III. 

GONE TO HIS REST. 

THE last-mentioned interview between Lord Caterham 
and his mother, though productive of good in a 
certain way — for Lady Beauport, however bravely she suc- 
ceeded in bearing herself at the time, was in reality not a 
little frightened at her son's determination — had a visibly 
bad effect en Caterham's health. The excitement had been 
too much for him. The physician had enjoined perfect rest, 
and an absence of all mental effort, in the same way in 
which they prescribe wine and nourishing food to the 
pauper, or Turkish baths to the cripple on the outskirts of 
Salisbury Plain. Perfect rest and absence of all mental 
effort were utterly impossible to Caterham, whose mind was 
on the rack, who knew that he had pitted himself against 
time for the accomplishment of his heart's desire, and who 
felt that he must either fulfil his earnest intention, or give up 
it and life simultaneously. Life was so thin and faint and 
feeble within him, that he needed all of it he could com- 
mand to bear him up merely through "the fever called 
living," — to keep him together sufficiently to get through 
the ordinary quiet routine of his ever-dull day. When 
there was an exceptional occasion — such as the interview 
with his mother, for instance, where he had gone through a 
vast amount of excitement — it left him exhausted, powerless, 
incapable of action or even of thought, to an extent that 
those accustomed only to ordinary people could never have 
imagined. 

The next day he was too ill to leave his bed ; but that 
made little difference to the rest of the household. Lord 
Beauport was away in Wales looking after some mines on 
one of his estates, which had suddenly promised to be 
specially productive. Lady Beauport, detained in town for 
the due carrying out of her plans with respect to Lionel, 
sent down her usual message of inquiry by Timpson, her 
maid, who communicated with Stephens, and gave the 
reply to her mistress. Lady Beauport repeated the message, 
"Very unwell indeed, eh?" and adding, "this weather is so 
horribly depressing," proceeded with her toilette. Miss 



298 Land at Last. 

Maurice sent grapes and flowers and some new perfume to 
the invalid; and — it revived him more than any thing else — - 
a little hurried note, bidding him not give way to depression, 
but rouse sufficiently to get into his easy-chair by the 
morrow, and she would spend all the day with him, and 
read to him, and play to him whatever he wanted. 

He had strength enough to raise that little note to his 
lips so soon as he heard the door shut behind the outgoing 
Stephens; to kiss it over and over again, and to place it 
beneath his pillow ere he sunk into such imitation of rest as 
was vouchsafed to him. A want of sleep was one of the 
worst symptoms of his malady, and the doctors had al! 
agreed that if they could only superinduce something like 
natural sleep, it might aid greatly in repairing the little 
strength which had been given to him originally, and which 
was so gradually and imperceptibly, and yet so surely, 
wearing away. But that seemed to be impossible. When 
he was first assisted to bed he was in a sufficiently drowsy 
state, partly from the fatigue of the day, partly from the 
effect of the wine, of which the doctors insisted on his 
taking a quantity which would have been nothing to an 
ordinary man, but was much to one feeble in frame, and 
unable to take any exercise to carry off its strength. Then, 
after a short slumber — heavy, stertorous, and disturbed — he 
would wake, bright and staring, without the smallest sign of 
sleep in his head or in his eye. In vain would he toss from 
side to side, and try all the known recipes for somnolence — 
none were of the slightest avail. He could not sleep, he 
could not compose himself in the least degree, he could not 
empty his mind as it were ; and the mind must be, or at all 
events must seem, empty before sleep will take possession of 
it. Lord Caterham's mind in the dead silence of the night 
was even more active than it was in the daytime. Before 
him rose up all the difficulties which he had to surmount, 
the dangers which he had to avoid, the hopes and fears and 
triumphs and vexations which made up the sum of his bitter 
life. They were not many now, — they never had been 
diffuse at any time ; so little had Caterham been a citizen of 
the world, that all his aspirations had lain within a very 
small compass, and now they centred in one person — Annie 
Maurice. To provide for her safety when he was not there 
to look after it in person ; to leave such records as would 



Gone to Ms Rest. 299 

show what action he had taken in her behalf, and on what 
grounds that action had been undertaken ; to arm some 
competent and willing person so thoroughly to bestir himself 
at the necessary juncture as to prevent the chance of the 
conspiracy against Annie's future being carried into effect :— 
these were the night-thoughts which haunted Caterham's 
couch, and rendered him sleepless. 

Sleeplessness had its usual effect. The following day he 
was quite worn out in mind and body, — felt it, knew it, 
could not deny the fact when it was suggested to him 
mildly by Stephens, more firmly by his doctors, — • but yet 
persevered in his intention of getting up. He was sure he 
should be so much better out of bed ; he was certain that a 
change — were it only to his easy-chair — would do him so 
much good. He could be very positive — " obstinate " was 
the phrase by which the doctors distinguished it, arbitrary " 
was Stephen's phrase — when he chose ; and so they let him 
have his way, wondering why he preferred to leave the calm 
seclusion of his bed. They little knew that the contents of 
that little note which the valet had seen protruding from the 
corner of his master's pillow when he went in to call him in 
the morning had worked that charm ; they did not know 
that she had promised to spend the day with him, and read 
and play to him. But he did; and had he died for it, he 
could not have denied himself that afternoon of delight. 

So he was dressed, and wheeled into his sitting-room, and 
placed by his desk and among his books. He had twice 
nearly fainted during the process ; and Stephens, who knew 
his every look, and was as regardful of his master's health as 
the just appreciation of a highly-paid place could make him, 
had urged Lord Caterham to desist and return to his bed. 
But Caterham was obstinate ; and the toilette was performed 
and the sitting-room gained, and then he desired that Miss 
Maurice might be told he was anxious to see her. 

She came in an instant. Ah, how radiant and fresh she 
looked as she entered the room ! Since the end of the 
season, she had so far assumed her heiress position as to 
have a carriage of her own and a saddle-horse ; and instead 
of accompanying Lady Beauport in her set round of 
" airing," Annie had taken long drives into country regions, 
where she had alighted and walked in the fresh air, duly 
followed by the carriage ; or on horseback, and attended by 



300 Land at Last. 

her groom, had galloped off to Hampstead and Highgate 
and Willesden and Ealing in the early morning, long before 
Lady Beauport had thought of unclosing her eyes. It was 
this glorious exercise, this enjoyment of heaven's light and 
air and sun, that had given the rose to Annie's cheeks and 
the brilliance to her eyes. She was freckled here and 
there ; and there was a bit of a brown mark on her forehead, 
showing exactly how much was left unshaded by her hat. 
These were things which would have distressed most well- 
regulated Belgravian damsels ; but they troubled Annie not 
one whit; and as she stood close by his chair, with her 
bright eyes and her pushed-off brown hair, and the big teeth 
gleaming in her fresh wholesome mouth, Caterham thought 
he had never seen her look more charming, and felt that the 
distance between her, brimming over with health, and him, 
gradually succumbing to disease, was greater than ever. 

Annie Maurice was a little shocked when she first glanced 
at Caterham. The few days which had intervened since she 
had been to his room had made a great difference in his 
appearance. His colour had not left him — on the contrary, 
it had rather increased — but there was a tight look about the 
skin, a dull glassiness in his eyes, and a pinched appearance 
in the other features, which were unmistakable. Of course 
she took no notice of this : but coming in, greeted him in 
her usual affectionate manner. Nor was there any per- 
ceptible difference in his voice as he said : 

" You see I have kept you to your word, Annie. You 
promised, if I were in my easy-chair, that you would play 
and read to me ; and here I am." 

" And here I am to do your bidding, Arthur ! and too 
delighted to do it, and to see you sufficiently well to be 
here. You're not trying too much, are you, Arthur?" 

" In what, Annie?" 

" In sitting up and coming into this room. Are you strong 
enough to leave your bed?" 

" Ah, I am so weary and wretched alone, Annie. I long 
so for companionship, for — " he checked himself and said, 
" for some one to talk, to read, to keep me company in all 
the long hours of the day. I'm not very bright just now, 
and even I have been stronger — which seems almost 
ridiculous — but I could keep away no longer, knowing you 
would come to lighten my dreariness." 



Gone to his Rest. 301 

Though his voice was lower and more faint than usual, 
there was an impassioned tone in it which she had never 
heard before, and which jarred ever so slightly on her ear. 
So she rose from her seat, and laughingly saying that she 
would go at once and perform part of her engagement, sat 
down at the piano, and played and sang such favourite 
pieces of his as he had often been in the habit of asking 
for. They were simple ballads, — some of Moore's melodies, 
Handel's " Harmonious Blacksmith," and some of Mendels- 
sohn's Licdcr ohiie Work, — all calm, soft, soothing music, 
such as Caterham loved ; and when Annie had been playing 
for some time he said : 

" You don't know how I love to hear you, Annie ! You're 
getting tired now, child." ' 

" Not in the least degree, Arthur. I could go on singing 
all day, if it amused you." 

" It does more than amuse me, Annie. I cannot describe 
to you the feeling that comes over me in listening to your 
singing; nothing else has such a calm, holy, sanctifying 
influence on me. Listening to you, all the petty annoyances, 
the carking cares of this world fade away, and — " 

He ceased speaking suddenly ; and Annie looking round, 
saw the tears on his cheek. She was about to run to him, 
but he motioned her to keep her seat, and said : " Annie 
dear, you recollect a hymn that I heard you sing one night 
when you first came here ? — one Sunday night when they 
were out, and you and I sat alone in the twilight in the 
drawing-room? Ah, I scarcely knew you then, but that 
hymn made a great impression on me." 

"You mean — 

Abide with me ! fast falls the eventide 

The darkness deepens : Lord, with me abide ! ' " 

" Yes, that is it. How lovely it is ! — both words and 
music, I think." 

"Yes, it is lovely. It was written by a Mr. Lyte, when 
he was—" 

She checked herself, but he finished the sentence for her, 
— " When he was dying. Yes ; I recollect your telling me 
so that night. Sing it for me, dear." 

She turned to the piano at once and in an instant the 



302 Land at Last. 

rich deep tones of her voice were ringing through the room. 
Annie Maurice sang ballads sweetly, but she sang hymns 
magnificently. There was not the slightest attempt at orna- 
mentation or bravura in her performance, but she threw her 
whole soul into her singing ; and the result was rich and 
solemn melody. As she sang, she seemed to embody the 
spirit of the composer, and her voice vibrated and shook 
with the fervour which animated her. 

Half leaning on his stick, half reclining in his chair, 
Caterham watched her in rapt delight; then when she had 
finished, and ere the thrilling music of her voice had died 
away, he said : " Thanks, dear — again a thousand thanks ! 
Now, once more a request, Annie. I shall not worry you 
much more, my child." 

" Arthur,"— and in an instant she was by his side, — " if 
you speak like that, I declare I will not sing to you." 

" O yes, you will, Annie dear ! — O yes, you will. You 
know as well as I do that — Well, then" — obedient to a 
forefinger uplifted in warning — " I'll say no more on that 
point. But I want you now to sing me the old-fashioned 
Evening Hymn. I've a very ancient love for dear old Bishop 
Ken, and I don't like to think of his being set aside for any 
modern hymnologist, — even for such a specimen as that you 
have just sung. Sing me ' Glory to Thee,' Annie, — that is, 
if you are old-fashioned enough to know it." 

She smiled, and sang. When she ceased, finding that he 
remained speechless and motionless, she went up to him, 
fearing that he had fainted. He was lying back in his chair 
perfectly quiet, with his eyes closed. When she touched 
him, he opened them dreamily, saying, " 'That I may dread 
the grave as little as my bed.' Yes, yes ! — Ah, Annie dear, 
you've finished !— and to think that you, a modern young' 
lady, should be able to sing old Bishop Ken without book ! 
Where did you learn him ? " 

"When I was a very little child, — at the Priory, Arthur. 
Geoffrey Ludlow — as I've told you, I think — used to come 
out to us every Sunday ; and in the evening after dinner, 
before I went to bed, he used to ask for his little wife to 
sing to him. And then poor papa used to tell me to sit on 
Geoft's knee, and I used to sing the Evening Hymn." 

" Ay," said Caterham in an absent manner, " Geoffrey 
Ludlow's little wife ! Geoffrey Ludlow's little wife ! — ay, ay ! 



Gone-to his Rest. 303 

' That so I may, rise glorious at Thine awful day ! ' In Thy 
mercy, in Thy mercy !" and saying this, he fainted away. 

That evening Algy Barford, at Lord Dropmore's in Lincoln- 
shire, on his return from shooting, found a telegram on his 
dressing-room table. It was from Annie Maurice, and begged 
his immediate return to town. 

Lord Caterham was better the next day. Though still 
very weak, he insisted on being dressed and wheeled into 
his sitting-room. Once there, he had his despatch-box placed 
before him, and the writing-materials put ready to his hand. 
Of late he had occasionally been in the habit of employing 
an amanuensis. Annie Maurice had frequently written from 
his dictation ; and when she had been engaged, a son of the 
old housekeeper, who was employed at a law-stationer's, and 
who wrote a hand which was almost illegible from its very 
clearness, had sometimes been pressed into the service. But 
now Lord Caterham preferred writing for himself. Annie 
had sent to beg him to rest ; and in reply he had scrawled 
two lines, saying that he was ever so much better, and that 
he had something to do which must be done, and which 
when done would leave him much happier and easier in 
mind. So they left him to himself; and Stephens, looking 
in from time to time, as was his wont, reported to the 
servants'-hall that his master was "at it as hard as ever — 
still a-writin' ! " They wondered what could thus occupy him, 
those curious domestics. They knew exactly the state in 
which he was, the feeble hold that he had on life ; — what do 
they not know, those London servants ? — and they thought 
that he was making his will, and speculated freely among 
themselves as to what would be the amount of Stephens's 
inheritance; and whether it would be a sum of money 
" down," or an annuity ; and whether Stephens would invest 
it after the usual fashion of their kind — in a public-house, or 
whether, from excessive gentility, he was not " a cut above 
that." Lord Caterham would not hold out much longer, 
they opined; and then Mr. Lionel would come in for his 
title ; and who Mr. Lionel was — inquired about by the new 
servants, and the description of Mr. Lionel by the old servants 
— and mysterious hints as to how, in the matter of Mr. 
Lionel, there had been a "screw loose" and a "peg out;" 
how he was a " regular out-and-out fast lot," and had had to 
"cut it ;" — all this occasioned plenty of talk in the servants'. 



3°4 Land at Last 

hall, and made the dreary autumn-day pass quite pleasantly. 
And still the sick man sat at his desk, plying his pen, with 
but rare intervals of rest — intervals during which he would 
clasp his poor aching head, and lift his shrivelled attenuated 
hands in earnest silent prayer. 

The Beauport household was sunk in repose the next 
morning, when a sharp ring at the bell, again and again 
repeated, aroused the young lady who as kitchen-maid was 
on her preferment, and whose dreams of being strangled by 
the cook for the heaviness of her hand in an omelette were 
scared by the shrill clanging of the bell which hung imme- 
diately over her head. The first notion of "fire" had 
calmed down into an idea of " sweeps " by the time that she 
had covered her night-attire with a dingy calico robe known 
to her as her " gownd •" and she was tottering blindly down 
stairs before she recollected that no sweeps had been ordered, 
and thought that it was probably a " runaway." But lured 
perhaps by a faint idea that it might be the policeman, she 
descended ; and after an enormous amount of unbolting and 
unchaining, found herself face-to-face with a fresh-coloured, 
light-bearded, cheery gentleman, who wore a Glengarry cap, 
had a travelling-rug in his hand, was smoking a cigar, and 
had evidently just alighted from a hansom-cab which was 
standing at the door, and the driver of which was just visible 
behind a big portmanteau and a gun-case. The fresh- 
coloured gentleman was apparently rather startled at the 
apparition of the kitchen-maid, and exclaimed, apparently 
involuntarily, " Gad !" in a very high key. Recovering him- 
self instantly, he asked how Lord Caterham was. Utterly 
taken aback at discovering that the visitor was not the 
policeman, the kitchen-maid was floundering about heayily 
for an answer, when she was more than ever disconcerted at 
seeing the fresh-coloured gentleman tear off his Glengarry- 
cap and advance up the steps with outsretched hand. These 
demonstrations were not made in honour of the kitchen-maid, 
but of Annie Maurice, who had been aroused from her usual 
light sleep by the ring, and who, guessing at the visitor, had 
come down in her dressing-gown to see him. 

They passed into the dining-room, and then he took her 
hand and said : " I only got your telegram at dinner-time 
last night, my dear Miss Maurice, and came off just as I was. 



Gone to his Rest. 305 

Propmore — deuced civil of him — drove me over to the 
station himself hard as he could go, by Jove ! just caught 
mail-train, and came on from King's Cross in a cab. It's 
about Caterham, of course. Bad news, — ay, ay, ay ! He — 
poor — I can't say it — he's in danger, he — " And brave old 
Algy stopped, his handsome jolly features all tightened and 
pinced in his anxiety. 

" He is very, very ill, dear Mr. Barford, — very ill ; and I 
wanted you to see him. I don't know — I can't tell why — 
but I think he may possibly have something on his mind — 
something which he would not like to tell me, but which he 
might feel a relief in confiding to some one else ; and as you, 
I know, are a very dear and valued friend of his, I think we 
should all like you to be that some one. That was what 
made me send for you." 

" I'm— I'm not a very good hand at eloquence, Miss 
Maurice — might put pebbles in my mouth and shout at the 
sea-shore and all that kind of thing, like the — the celebrated 
Greek person, you know — and wouldn't help rae in getting 
out a word ; but though I can't explain, I feel very grateful 
to you for sending for me, to see — dear old boy ! " The 
knot which had been rising in Algy Barford's throat during 
this speech had grown nearly insurmountable by this time, 
and there were two big tears running down his waistcoat. 
He tried to pull himself together as he said : " If he has any 
thing to say, which he would like to say to me — of course — 
I shall— any thing that would — God bless him, my dear old 
boy ! — good, patient, dear darling old boy, God bless him !" 
The thought of losing his old friend flashed across him in all 
its dread heart-wringing dreariness, and Algy Barford fairly 
broke down and wept like a child. Recovering himself after 
a moment, he seized Annie's hand, and muttering something 
to the effect that he would be back as soon as he had made 
himself a little less like an Esquimaux, he dashed into the 
cab and was whirled away. 

You would scarcely have thought that Algy Barford had 
had what is called sleep, but what really is a mixture of 
nightmare and cramp in a railway-carriage, had you seen him 
at eleven o'clock, when he next made his appearance at St. 
Barnabas Square, so bright and fresh and radiant was he. 
He found Annie Maurice awaiting his arrival, and had with 
her a short earnest conversation as to Caterham's state. 



306 Land at Last. 

From that he learned all. The doctors had a very bad 
opinion of their patient's state : it was — hum — ha ! — Yes — ■ 
you know ! — general depression — a want of vitality, which — 
just now — looking at his normal lack of force, of what we call 
professionally vis vita, might — eh ? Yes, no doubt, serious 
result. Could not be positively stated whether he would not 
so far recover — pull through, as it is called — rally, as we say, 
as to — remain with us yet some time ; but in these cases 
there was always — well, yes, it must be called a risk. This 
was the decision which the doctors had given to Annie, and 
which she, in other words, imparted to Algy Barford, who, 
coupling it with his experience of the guarded manner in 
which fashionable physicians usuallyannounced their opinions, 
felt utterly hopeless, and shook his head mournfully. He 
tried to be himself, to resume his old smile and old confident 
buoyant way ; he told his dear Miss Maurice that she must 
hope for the best ; that these doctor-fellows, by Jove, gene- 
rally knew nothing ; half of them died suddenly themselves, 
without even having anticipated their own ailments ; " phy 
sician, heal thyself," and all that sort of thing ; that probably 
Caterham wanted a little rousing, dear old boy ; which 
rousing he would go in and give him. But Annie marked 
the drooping head and the sad despondent manner in which 
he shrugged his shoulders and plunged his hands into his 
pockets when he thought she had retired — marked also how 
he strove to throw elasticity into his step and light into his 
face as he approached the door of Caterham's room. 

It had been arranged between Algy and Annie Maurice 
that his was to have the appearance of a chance visit, so that 
when Stephens had announced him, and Lord Caterham had 
raised his head in wonder, Algy, who had by this time pulled 
himself together sufficiently, said: "Ah, ha! Caterham!— 
dear old boy ! — thought you had got rid of us all out of town, 
eh ? — and were going to have it all to yourself ! Not a bit 
of it, dear boy ! These doctor-fellows tell you one can't get 
on without ozone. Don't know what that is — daresay they're 
right. All I know is, I can't get on without a certain 
amount of chimney-pot. Country, delicious fresh air, turf, 
heather, peat-bog, stubble, partridge, snipe, grouse — all 
deuced good ! cows and pigs, and that kind of thing ; get 
up early, and go to bed and snore ; get red face and double- 
awful weight — then chimney-pot required. I 



Gone to his Rett. 307 

always know, bless you ! Too much London season, get 
my liver as big as Strasburg goose's, you know— foie gras and 
feet nailed to a board, and that kind of thing ; too much 
country, tight waistcoat, red face — awfully British, in point 
of fact. Then, chimney-pot. I'm in that state now ; and 
I've come back to have a week's chirnney-pot and blacks 
and generally cabbage-stalky street — and then I shall go away 
much better." 

" You keep your spirits, Algy, wherever you are." The 
thin faint voice struck on Algy Barford's ear like a knell. 
He paused a minute and took a short quick gulp, and then 
said : " O yes, still the same stock on hand, Caterham. I 
could execute country orders, or supply colonial agencies 
even, with promptitude and despatch, I think. And you, 
Arthur — how goes it with you?" 

" Very quietly, Algy, — very, very quietly, thank God ! I've 
had no return of my old pain for some time, and the head- 
ache seems to have left me." 

" Well, that's brave ! We shall see you in your chair out 
on the lawn at the nun t- breakfast at Homershams again this 
winter, Arthur. We shall — " 

"Well, I scarcely think that. I mean, not perhaps as 
you interpret me ; but — I scarcely think — However, there's 
time enough to think of that. Let's talk of nearer subjects. 
I'm so glad you chanced to come to town, Algy — so very 
glad. Your coming seems predestined ; for it was only 
yesterday I was wishing I had you here." 

" Tremendously glad I came, dear old boy ! Chimney- 
pot attack fell in handy this time, at all events. What did 
you want, Arthur, old fellow ? Not got a new leaning 
towards dogginess, and want me to go up to Bill George's ? 
Do you recollect that Irish deerhound I got for you ?" 

" I recollect him well — poor old Connor. No, not a dog 
now. I want you to — just raise me a bit, Algy, will you ? — ■ 
a little bit : I am scarcely strong enough to — that's it. Ah, 
Algy, old fellow, how often in the long years that we have 
been chums have you lifted this poor wretched frame in your 
strong arms !" 

It was a trial for a man of Algy Barford's big heart ; but 
he made head against it even then, and said in a voice 
harder and drier than usual from the struggle, " How often 

x 2 



3 o8 Zand at Last. 

have I brought my bemuddled old brains for you to take 
them out and pick them to pieces and clean them, and put 
them back into my head in a state to be of some use to me ! 
■ — that's the question, dear old boy. How often have you 
supplied the match to light the tow inside my head — I've got 
deuced lfttle outside now — and sent me away with some 
idea of what I ought to do when I was in a deuce of a knot ! 
Why, I recollect once when Lionel and I — what is it, dear 
old boy?" 

" You remind me — the mention of that name — I want to 
say something to you, Algy, which oddly enough had — just 
reach me that bottle, Algy ; thanks ! — which — •" 

" Rest a minute, dear old boy ; rest. You've been exert- 
ing yourself too much." 

"No; I'm better now — only faint for a minute. What 
was I saying ? — O, about Lionel. You recollect a letter 
which — " his voice was growing again so faint that Algy took 
up the sentence. 

" Which I brought to you ; a letter from Lionel, after he 
had, you know, dear old boy — board ship and that kind ot 
thing ?" 

" Yes, that is the letter I mean. You — you knew its 
contents, Algy ?" 

" Well, Arthur, I think I did — I — you know Lionel was 
very fond of me, and — used to be about with him, you know, 
and that kind of thing — " 

" You knew his — his wife ?" 

" Wife, Gad, did he say ? — Jove ! Knew you were— dear 
me ! — charming person — lady. Very beautiful — great friend 
of Lionel's ; but not his wife, dear old boy — somebody 
else's wife." 

" Somebody else's wife?" 

" Yes ; wonderful story. I've wanted to tell you, and, 
most extraordinary thing, something always interrupted. 
Friend of yours too ; tall woman, red hair, violet eyes — wife 
of painter-man — Good God, Arthur ! " 

Well might he start ; for Lord Caterham threw his hands 
wildly above his head, then let them fall helplessly by his 
side. By the time Algy Barford had sprung to his chair, and 
passed his arms around him, the dying man's head had drooped 
on to his right shoulder, and his eyes were glazing fast. 



The protracted Search. 309 

"Arthur! dear Arthur! one instant! Let me call for 
help." 

"No, Algy; leave us so; no one else. Only one who 
could — and she — better not — bless her ! better not. Take 
my hand, Algy, old friend — tried, trusted, dear old friend — ■ 
always thoughtful, always affectionate — God bless you — 
Algy ! Yes, kiss my forehead again. Ah, so happy ! where 
the wicked cease from troubling and the — Yes, Lord, with 
me abide, with me abide ! — the darkness deepens : Lord, 
with me abide !" 

And as the last words fell faintly on Algy Barford's ears, 
the slight form which was lying in Algy Barford's arms, and 
on which the strong man's tears were falling like rain, 
slipped gradually out of his grasp — dead. 



CHAPTER IV 



THE PROTRACTED SEARCH. 



ANNIE MAURICE was aroused from the brooding 
loneliness in which she had sought refuge, in the 
first bewilderment and stupefaction of her grief, by a com- 
munication from Lord Beauport. All was over now; the 
last sad ceremonial had taken place ; and the place which 
had known Arthur, in his patient suffering, in his little- 
appreciated gentleness and goodness, should know him no 
more for ever. The crippled form was gone, and the 
invalid-chair which had for so long supported it had been 
removed, by order of the housekeeper, to a receptacle for 
discarded articles of use or ornament. Lord and Lady 
Beauport were not likely to notice the circumstance, 01 
to object to it if they did. The blinds were decorously 
drawn ; the rooms were scrupulously arranged ; every thing 
in them in its place, as though never to be used or handled 
any more. The books, the objects of art, the curious things 
which the dead man alone of aH the house had understood 
nnd valued, had a staring lifeless look about them in the 
unaccustomed precision of their distribution ; the last flowers 
which Annie had placed in the Venetian glasses had withered, 
nml been thrown a\x;\y by the notable housemaids. A ray 



310 Land at Last. 

of sunlight crept in at one side of the blind, and streamed 
upon the spot where Arthur's head had fallen back upon 
his friend's arm, — ah, how short a time ago ! — and yet 
all looked strange and changed, not only as if he had gone 
away for ever, but as if he had never been there at all. 
Annie had not gone into the rooms since he had left them 
for the last time ; she had an instinctive feeling of how 
it would be, and she could not bear it yet ; she knew that 
in nothing would there be so sharp a pang as in seeing 
the familiar things which had been so like him, grown so 
unlike. So, when her maid told her that Lord Beauport 
wished to see her immediately, she asked nervously where 
he was. 

" In the library, Miss Annie," said her maid, and looked 
very pityingly at the purple eyelids and white face. 

"Alone?" 

No, his lordship was not alone ; one of the lawyer gentle- 
men and her ladyship were with him. 

Annie went slowly and reluctantly to the library. She 
did not think for a moment that Lord and Lady Beauport 
were indifferent to the death of their eldest son ; on the 
contrary, she knew that the event had come upon them 
with a mighty shock, and that they had felt it, if not deeply, 
at least violently and keenly. But she had the faculty 
of vivid perception, and she used it intuitively ; and in this 
case it told her that shame, self-detection, and remorse, — ■ 
the vague uneasiness which besets all who cannot reckon 
with themselves to the full in the daylight of conscience, 
but, like the debtor called to an account, kept something 
back, — mingled largely with their grief. It was not whole- 
hearted, lavish, sacred, like hers ; it was not the grief which 
takes the spontaneous form of prayer, and chastens itself 
into submission, elevating and sanctifying the mind and 
character of the mourner. Annie knew, by that keen un- 
reasoning instinct of hers, that while her sole and earnest 
desire was to keep the memory of her dead cousin green, 
jecalling his words, his counsels, his wishes, — dwelling on 
his views of life and its duties, and preserving him in her 
faithful heart, for ever near her, as a living friend, — while 
her chosen thoughts would be of him, and her best consola- 
tion in memory,- — his father and mother would forget him 
if they could. They mourned for him, but it was with 



The protracted Search. 311 

captious impatient grief; there was a sting in every re- 
membrance, every association, which they could not yet 
escape from, but would have put away if they had had the 
power. To them, sorrow for the dead was as a haunting 
enemy, to be outwitted and left behind as speedily as might 
be ; to her it was a friend, cherished and dear, solemnly 
greeted, and piously entertained. 

When Annie entered the library, she found that the 
"lawyer gentleman," whom her maid had mentioned, was 
the family solicitor, Mr. Knevitt, who was well known to 
her, and for whom Caterham had had much liking and 
respect. Lord Beauport and he were standing together 
beside a long table, strewn with papers, and on which stood 
a large despatch-box open, and, as she saw while she walked 
up the room, also full of papers. At some distance from 
the table, and in the shade, Lady Beauport was seated, 
her hands clasped together in her lap, and her figure leaning 
completely back in the deep arm-chair she occupied. She 
looked very pale and worn, and her deep mourning was 
not becoming to her. Sharp contention of thought and 
feeling was going on under that calm exterior, — bitter pangs, 
in which vexation had a large share, as well as regret, and 
a sense that she was to be baffled in the future as she had 
been defeated in the past. Ay, the future, — she had begun 
to think of it already, or rather she had begun (when had 
she ever ceased ?) to think of him. Lionel was the future 
to her. What if there were more trouble and opposition 
in store for her ? What if Arthur (ah, poor fellow ! he had 
never understood young men different from himself, and 
he was always hard on Lionel) had left any communication 
for his father, had written any thing touching the particulars 
of Lionel's career which he knew, and had warned her not 
to ask ? Hitherto nothing of the sort had been found in 
the examination of Lord Caterham's papers instituted by 
Lord Beauport and Mr. Knevitt. There was a packet 
for Annie Maurice, indeed ; they had found it an hour ago, 
and Lord Beauport had just sent for Annie in order to 
hand it over to her. Lady Beauport had, however, no 
apprehensions connected with this matter ; the virtues of 
the dead and the vices of the living son (though she would 
not have given them their true name) secured her from 
feeling any. Whatever Lionel had done she felt convinced 



312 Land at Last. 

was not of a nature to be communicated to Annie, and 
Caterham would have guarded her with the utmost caution 
from hearing any thing unfit for her ears. No, no ; there 
was no danger in that quarter. Had she not felt sure, 
before this " dreadful thing" — as she called Lord Caterham's 
death to herself — happened, that the scrupulous delicacy 
of her son, where Annie was concerned, would be her best 
aid and defence against his defeat of her projects? The 
letter, the packet — whatever it might be called — was pro- 
bably an effusion of feeling, a moral lecture on life, or 
a posthumous guide to studies, in which Arthur had desired 
to see his gentle and interesting cousin proficient. 

So Lady Beauport looked at the packet as it lay on the 
table, close to the despatch-box, without the least anxiety, 
and fixed her impatient attention on the further investiga- 
tion of the papers, continued by Lord Beauport and Mr. 
Knevitt. It was not until they had concluded as much 
of their melancholy task as they proposed to undertake that 
day, that the Earl sent the summons which brought Annie 
to the library. 

He took up the packet as she drew near, and said, very 
sadly : 

" This is for you, my dear." 

" From — from Arthur?" she asked, in a trembling voice. 

"Yes, Annie, — we found it among his papers." 

She took it from him, looked at it, and sat down in 
a chair beside the table, but made no attempt to break 
the seal. Lady Beauport did not speak. The Earl re- 
sumed his conversation with Mr. Knevitt, and Annie sat 
still and silent for a few minutes, Then she interrupted 
Lord Beauport by asking him if he required her for any 
thing further. 

" No, my dear," he said kindly ; " you may go away 
if you like. How weary you look !" he added, with a deep 
sigh. Still Lady Beauport spoke no word ; but her keen 
unsympathetic eyes followed the girl's graceful figure and 
drooping head as she left the library. 

Arrived at her own room, Annie opened the packet, 
which she felt was a sacred thing. Her departed friend 
had written to her, then, words which he intended her to 
read only when he should be no more; solemn counsel, 
wry precious affection., a priceless legacy from the dead 



The protracted Search. 313 

would no doubt be in the letter, whose folds felt so thick 
and heavy in her hand. She removed the outer cover, 
placing it carefully by her side, and found an enclosure 
directed to Geoffrey Ludlow, and merely a few lines to 
herself, in which the writer simply directed her to place the 
accompanying letter in Geoffrey's hands herself, and privately, 
%s soon after it came into hers as possible. 

Surprise and disappointment were Annie's first feelings. 
She looked forlornly enough at the meagre scrap of writing 
that was her share, and with some wonder at the letter — no 
doubt voluminous — which was Geoffrey's. What could it be 
about? Arthur and Ludlow had been good friends, it is 
true, and had entertained strong mutual respect ; but she 
could not account for this solemn communication, implying 
so strange and absolute a confidence. She turned the 
letter over in her hands, she scrutinised the address, the 
paper, the seal ; then she rose and locked it carefully away, 
together with the note to herself in which it had been 
enclosed. " Give this letter privately to Ludlow," were 
Arthur's words ; then, if he did not wish its delivery to 
be known, it was plain he wished to conceal its existence. 
If Lady Beauport should question her as to the contents of 
the packet ? Well, she must either give an evasive answer, 
or refuse to answer at all ; the alternative should be decided 
by the terms of the question. She could venture to refuse 
an answer to a question of Lady Beauport's now ; her 
heiress-ship had secured her many immunities, that one 
among the rest. 

Lord Beauport was right ; Annie was weary, and looking 
so. The sickness and dreariness of a great grief were upon 
her, and she was worn out. The stillness of the great 
house was oppressive to her ; and yet she shrank from the 
knowledge that that stillness was soon to pass away, that 
life would resume its accustomed course, and the dead be 
forgotten. By all but her ; to her his memory should 
be ever precious, and his least wish sacred. Then she 
debated within herself how she should fulfil his last request. 
There were difficulties in the way. She could not tell 
Geoffrey to call on her yet, nor could she go to his house. 
Then she remembered that he had not written to her. She 
had forgotten, until then, that there had been no answer 



314 Land at Last, 

to the letter in which she told Geoffrey Ludlow of Caterham's 
death. Could a letter have come, and been overlooked? 
She rang for her maid and questioned her, but she was 
positive no letter had been mislaid or forgotten. Several 
papers lay on her writing-table ; she turned them over, to 
satisfy herself, though nothing could be more improbable 
than that she should have overlooked a letter from her dear 
old friend. There was no such thing. Puzzled and vaguely 
distressed, Annie stood looking at the heap of notes, with 
her hands pressed on her throbbing temples ; and her maid 
entreated her to lie down and rest, commenting, as Lord 
Beauport had done, upon her appearance. Annie complied ; 
and the girl carefully darkened the room and left her. For 
a while she lay still, thinking how she was to convey the 
letter to Geoffrey, without delay, "as soon as possible," 
Arthur had said ; but she soon dropped into the dull heavy 
sleep of grief .and exhaustion. 

It was late in the evening when she awoke, and she again 
eagerly inquired for letters. There were none, and Annie's 
surprise grew into uneasiness. She resolved to write to 
Ludlow again, to tell him that she had something of im- 
portance to communicate, without indicating its character. 
"He may tell Margaret, or not, as he pleases," she thought — 
" that is for him to decide. I daresay, if she sees my note, 
she will not feel any curiosity or interest about it. Poor 
Geoffrey!" And then the girl recalled all that Arthur had 
said of his suspicion and distrust of Ludlow's beautiful wife, 
and thought sorrowfully how large was his share in the loss 
they had sustained of such a friend. Something must be 
wrong, she thought, or Geoffrey would surely have written. 
In her sore grief she yearned for the true and ready sympathy 
which she should have from him, and him alone. Stay; she 
would not only write, she would send her maid to inquire 
for Geoffrey, and Margaret, and the child. She could go 
early next morning in a cab, and be back before breakfast- 
hour. So Annie made this arrangement, wrote her note, 
got through a short hour or two in the great dreary drawing- 
room as best she could, and once more cried herself to the 
merciful sleep which in some degree strengthened her for 
the intelligence which awaited her in the morning. 

She was aroused by her maid, who came hurriedly to her 



The protracted Search. 315 

bedside, holding in her hand Annie's note to Ludlow. She 
started up, confused, yet sufficiently awake to be startled at 
the look in the girl's face, 

" What is it ?" she said faintly. 

" O Miss Annie, dreadful, dreadful news ! Mrs. Ludlow 
has gone away, nobody knows where, and Mr. Ludlow is 
raving mad, in brain-fever ! " 

Lord Caterham's letter lay for many days undisturbed in 
the receptacle in which Annie Maurice had placed it. Not 
yet was the confidence of the dead to be imparted to the 
living. He was td read that letter in time, and to learn 
from it much that the writer had never dreamed it could 
convey. Little had the two, who had lived in so near and 
pleasant an intimacy, dreamed of the fatal link which really, 
though unseen, connected them. This was the letter which, 
in due time, Annie Maurice deposited in Geoffrey's hands : 

" My dear Ludlow, — I have felt for some time that for 
me ' the long disease called life ' is wearing toward its cure. 
Under this conviction I am ' setting my house in order ; ' 
and to do so thoroughly, and enjoy peace of mind for the 
brief space which will remain to me when that is done, I 
must have recourse to your honest and trusty friendship. I 
have to bequeath to you two services to be done for me, 
and one confidence to be kept, until your discretion shall 
judge it expedient that it should be divulged. These two 
services are distinct, but cognate ; and they concern one 
who is the dearest of all living creatures to me, and for 
whom I know you entertain a sincere and warm affection — ■ 
I allude to Annie Maurice. The confidence concerns my 
unworthy brother, Lionel Brakespere. 

" In the fortune left her by Mr. Amp thill, Annie has 
security against material ills, and is safe from the position 
of dependence, in which I never could bear to feel she must 
remain. This is an immense relief to my mind ; but it has 
substituted a source of uneasiness, though of considerably 
less dimensions, for that which it has removed. When I 
wrote to you lately, asking you to come to me, it was with 
the intention of speaking to you on this subject ; but as our 
interview has been accidentally prevented, I made up my 
mind to act in the matter myself, as long as I live, and to 



316 Land at Last. 

bequeath action after my death to you, as I am now doing. 
My brother is as worthless a man as there is on the face of 
the earth — heartless, depraved, unprincipled to an almost 
incredible degree, considering his early association with 
men and women of character. You have, I daresay, heard 
vaguely of certain disgraceful circumstances which forced 
him to leave the country, and which brought immeasurable 
distress upon us all. 

" I need not enter into these matters : they have little to 
do with the thing that is pressing on my mind. If Lionel's 
vices had been hidden from society ever so discreetly, 1 was 
sufficiently aware of their existence to have shrunk with as 
much horror as I feel now from the idea of his becoming 
Annie's husband. Let me preface what I am about to say 
by assuring you that I do not entertain any such fear. I 
know Annie ; and I am perfectly assured that for her pure, 
upright, intelligent, and remarkably clear-sighted nature such 
a man as Lionel, — whose profound and cynical selfishness 
is not to be hidden by external polish, and whose many 
vices have left upon him the cachet which every pure woman 
feels instinctively, even though she does not understand 
theoretically, — will never have any attraction. She knows 
the nature of the transaction which drove him from England; 
and such a knowledge would be sufficient protection for her, 
without the repulsion which I am satisfied will be the result 
of association with him. I would protect her from such 
association if I could, and while I live I do not doubt my 
power to do so. It will be painful to me to use it ; but I 
do not mind pain for Annie's benefit. A sad estrangement 
always existed between Lionel and me; an estrangement 
increased on his side by contempt and dislike — which he 
expressed in no measured terms — but on my part merely 
passive. The power which I possess to hinder his return to 
this house was put into my hands by himself — more, I 
believe, to wound me, and in the wanton malice and daring 
of his evil nature, than for the reason he assigned; but it is 
effectual, and I shall use it, as I can, without explanation. 
When I am gone, it needs be, some one must be enabled to 
use this power in my stead ; and that person, my dear 
Ludlow, is you. I choose you for Annie's sa>ke, for yours, 
and for my own. My mother designs to marry Lionel to 
Annie, and thus secure to him by marriage the fortune 



The protracted Search. 317 

which his misconduct lost him by inheritance. With this 
purpose in view, she has summoned Lionel to England, and 
she proposes that he should return to this house. She and 
I have had a painful explanation, and I have positively 
declared that it cannot and shall not be. In order to 
convince her of the necessity of yielding the point, I have 
told her that I am in possession of particulars of Lionel's 
conduct, unknown to her and my father, which perfectly 
justify me in my declaration ; and I have entreated her, 
for the sake of her own peace of mind, not to force me, by 
an attempt which can have no issue but failure, to com- 
municate the disgraceful particulars. Lady Beauport has 
been forced to appear satisfied for the present ; and matters 
are in a state of suspense. 

" But this cannot last, and with my life it will come to an 
end. Lionel will return here, in my place, and bearing my 
name — the heir to an earldom ; and the follies and crimes 
of the younger son will be forgotten. Still Annie Maurice 
will be 110 less a brilliant match, and my mother will be no 
less anxious to bring about a marriage. I foresee misery to 
Annie — genteel persecution and utter friendlessness — unless 
you, Ludlow, come to her aid. With all its drawbacks, this 
is her fitting home ; and you must not propose that she 
should leave it without very grave cause. But you must be 
in a position to preserve her from Lionel ; you must hold 
the secret in your hand, as I hold it, which makes all schemes 
for such an accursed marriage vain — the secret which will 
keep the house she will adorn free from the pollution of his 
presence. When you hear that Lionel Brakespere is paying 
attention to Annie under his father's roof, go to Lord 
Beauport, and tell him that Lionel Brakespere is a married 
man. 

" And now, my dear Ludlow, you know one of the services 
you are to do me when I am gone ; and you are in pos- 
session of the confidence I desire to repose in you. To 
explain the other, I must give you particulars. When my 
brother left England, he sent me, by the hands of a common 
friend, a letter which he had written at Liverpool, and 
which, when I have made you acquainted with its contents, 
I shall destroy. I do not desire to leave its low ribaldry, 
hi coarse contempt, its cynical wickedness, to shock my 



3 1 8 Land at Last. 

poor father's eyes, or to testify against my brother when I 
am gone. 

" I enable you to expose him, in order to prevent un- 
happiness to one dear to us both ; but I have no vindictive 
feeling towards him, and no eyes but mine must see the 
words in which he taunts me with the physical afflictions to 
which he chooses to assign my ' notions of morality ' and 
'superiority to temptation.' Enough — the facts which the 
letter contains are these : As nearly as I can make out, four 
years ago he met and tried to seduce a young lady, only 
eighteen years old, at Tenby. Her virtue, I hope — he says 
her ambition — foiled him, and he ran away with the girl and 
married her. He called himself Leonard Brookfield ; and 
she never knew his name or real position. He took her 
abroad for a time ; then brought her to London, where she 
passed for his mistress among the men to whom he intro- 
duced her, and who were aware that she had no knowledge 
of his identity. He had left the army then, or of course she 
would have discovered it. When the crash came, he had 
left her, and he coolly told me, as he had next to nothing for 
himself, he had nothing for her. His purpose in writing to 
me was to inform me, as especially interested in the preser- 
vation of the family, that not only was there a wife in the 
case, but, to the best of his belief, a child also, to be born 
very soon ] and as no one could say what would become of 
him, it might be as well to ascertain where the heir of the 
Beauports might be found, if necessary. He supposed I 
would keep the matter a secret, until it should become 
advisable, if ever, to reveal it. Mrs. Brakespere had no 
knowledge of her rights, and could not, therefore, make 
herself obnoxious by claiming them. If I chose to give her 
some help, I should probably be rewarded by the conscious- 
ness of charity ; but he advised me to keep the secret of our 
relationship for my own sake : she was perfectly well known 
as his mistress ; and as they were both under a cloud at 
present, the whole thing had better be kept as dark as 
possible. I read this letter with the deepest disgust ; the 
personal impertinence to myself I could afford to disregard, 
and was accustomed to ; but the utter baseness and villany 
of it sickened me. This was the man who was to bear my 
father's name and fill my father's place. I determined %t 



The protracted Search. 319 

once to afford assistance to the wretched forsaken wife, and 
to wait and consider when and how it would be advisable to 
bring about the acknowledgment of the truth and her re- 
cognition. I thought of course only of simple justice. The 
circumstances of the marriage were too much against the 
girl to enable me to form any favourable opinion of her. I 
turned to the letter to find her name and address ; they 
were not given : of course this was only an oversight ; he 
must have intended to subjoin them. My perplexity was 
extreme. How was I to discover this unhappy woman ? I 
knew too well the code of honour, as it is called, among 
men, to hope for help from any of his dissolute friends ; 
they would keep his evil secret — as they believed it — faith- 
fully. 

"Algy Barford had brought me the letter, and on that 
ccasion had referred to his being 'no end chums' with 
Lionel. But he had also declared that he knew nothing 
whatever of the contents of the letter. Still he might know 
something of her. I put a question or two to him, and 
found he did not. He had known a woman who lived with 
Lionel for a short time, he believed, but she was dead. 
Clearly this was another person. Then I determined to 
have recourse to the professional finders-out of secrets, and 
I sent for Blackett. You have often seen him leaving me 
as you came in, or waiting for me as you went out. The 
day Mrs. Ludlow fainted, you remember, he was in the hall 
as you took her to the carriage, and he asked me so many 
questions about her, that I was quite amused at the idea of 
a detective being so enthusiastic. The materials he had to 
work on were sparing indeed, and the absence of all clue by 
name was very embarrassing. He went to work skilfully, I 
am sure, though he failed. He went to Tenby, and there 
he ascertained the name of the girl who had deserted her 
widowed mother for Leonard Brookfield. The mother had 
been many months dead. This was little help, for she had 
doubtless discarded the Christian name ; and the personal 
description was probably coloured by the indignation her 
conduct had excited. Blackett learned that she was hand- 
some, with red hair and blue eyes, — some said black. He 
could get no certain information on that point. 

" But I need not linger over these details. No efforts 
i"ere spared, yet our search proved vain. When some time 



3 20 



Land at Last. 



had elapsed, their direction changed, and a woman and 
child were sought for : in every part of London where desti- 
tution hides, in all the abodes of flaunting sin, in hospitals, 
in refuges, in charitable institutions, — in vain. Sometimes 
Blackett suggested that she might have taken another pro- 
tector and gone abroad ; he made all possible inquiry. She 
had never communicated with her home, or with any one 
who had formerly known her. I began to despair of finding 
her ; and I had almost made up my mind to relinquish the 
search, when Blackett came to me one day, in great excite- 
ment for him, and told me he was confident of finding her 
in a day or two at the farthest. ' And the child ? ' I asked. 
No, he knew nothing of the child; the woman he had 
traced, and whom he believed to be my brother's deserted 
wife, had no child, had never had one, within the knowledge 
of the people from whom he had got his information ; 
nevertheless he felt sure he was right this time, and the 
child might have died before she came across them. She 
must have suffered terribly. Then he told me his informa- 
tion came through a pawnbroker, of whom he had frequent 
occasion to make inquiries. This man had shown him a 
gold locket, which had evidently held a miniature, on the 
inside of which was engraved ' From Leonard to Clara,' and 
which had been pawned by a very poor but respectable 
person, whose address, in a miserable lane at Islington, he 
now gave to Blackett. He went to the place at once and 
questioned the woman, who was only too anxious to give all 
the information in her power in order to clear herself. She 
had received the locket in the presence of two persons, from 
a young woman who had lodged with her, and who had no 
other means of paying her. The young woman had gone 
away a week before, she did not know where ; she had no 
money, and only a little bundle of clothes — a handkerchief 
full. She had no child, and had never said any thing about 
one. The woman did not know her name. She had taken 
a picture out of the locket. She had red hair and dark eyes. 
This was all. I shall never forget the wretched feeling 
which came over me as I thought of the suffering this brief 
story implied, and of what the wretched woman might since 
have undergone. I remember so well, it was in January, — 
a dirty, wet, horrible day, — when Blackett told me all this ; 
and I was haunted with the idea of the woman dying of 



The protracted Search. 321 

cold and want in the dreadful streets. Blackett had no 
doubt of finding her now ; she had evidently fallen to the 
veriest pauperism, and out of the lowest depths she would 
be drawn up, no doubt. So he set to work at once, but all 
in vain. Dead or living, no trace of her has ever been 
found ; and the continuous search has been abandoned. 
Blackett only ' bears it in mind ' now. Once he suggested 
to me, that as she was no doubt handsome, and not over 
particular, she might have got a living by sitting to the 
painters, and ' I'll try that lay,' he said ; but nothing came 
of that either. I thought of it the day Annie and I met you 
first, at the Private View, and if I had had the opportunity, 
would have asked you if you knew such a face as the one 
we were only guessing at, after all; but you were hurried, 
and the occasion passed ; and when we met again, Blackett 
had exhausted all sources of information in that direction, 
and there was nothing to be learned. 

" This is the story I had to tell you, Ludlow, and to leave 
to your discretion to use when the time comes. Within the 
last week Blackett has made further attempts, and has again 
failed. Lionel is in London ; but while I live he does not 
enter this house. I shall, after a while, when I am able, 
which I am not now, let him know that search has been 
unsuccessfully made for his wife, and demand that he shall 
furnish me with any clue in his possession, under the threat 
of immediate exposure. This, and every other plan, may 
be at any moment rendered impossible by my death ; there- 
fore I write this, and entreat you to continue the search 
until this woman be found, dead or living. So only can 
Annie's home be made happy and reputable for her when I 
shall have left it for ever. You will receive this from Annie's 
hands ; a packet addressed to her will not be neglected or 
thrown aside ; and -if it becomes necessary for you to act for 
her, she will have the knowledge of the confidence I repose 
in you to support her in her acceptance of your interference 
and obedience to your advice. I confide her to you, my 
dear Ludlow — as I said before — as the dearest living thing 
in all the world to me. — Yours ever, 

"Caterham." 



$22 Land at iMst. 



CHAPTER V 

Dismay. 

MRS. LUDLOW and Til had concluded the meal 
which is so generally advanced to a position of 
unnatural importance in a household devoid of the masculine 
element en permanence; and, the tea-things having been 
removed, the old lady, according to the established order, 
was provided with a book, over which she was expected to 
fall comfortably asleep. But she did not adhere to the rule 
of her harmless and placid life on this particular occasion. 
The " cross " was there — no doubt about it ; and it was no 
longer indefinite in its nature, but very real, and beginning 
to be very heavy. Under the pressure of its weight Geoffrey's 
mother was growing indifferent to, even unobservant of, the 
small worries which had formerly occupied her mind, and 
furnished the subject-matter of her pardonable little queru- 
lousness and complaints — a grievance in no way connected 
with the tradespeople, and uninfluenced by the " greatest 
plagues in life" — which no reduction of duties involving 
cheap groceries, and no sumptuary laws restraining servant- 
gal-ism within limits of propriety in respect of curls and 
crinoline, had any power to assuage,— had taken possession 
of her now, and she fidgeted and fumed no longer, but was 
haunted by apprehension and sorely troubled. 

A somewhat forced liveliness on Til's part, and a marked 
avoidance of the subject of Geoffrey, of whom, as he had 
just left them, it would have been natural that the mother 
and daughter should talk, bore witness to the embarrassment 
she felt, and increased Mrs. Ludlow's depression. She sat 
in her accustomed arm-chair, but her head drooped forward 
and her fingers tapped the arms in an absent manner, which 
showed her pre-occupation of mind. Til at length took her 
needle-work, and sat down opposite her mother, in a silence 
which was interrupted after a considerable interval by the 
arrival of Charley Potts, who had not altogether ceased to 
offer clumsy and violently-improbable explanations of his 
visits, thoueh such were rapidly coming to be unnecessary. 



Dismay. 323 

On the present occasion Charley floundered through the 
preliminaries with more than his usual impulsive awkward- 
ness, and there was that in his manner which caused Til (a 
quick observer, and especially so in his case) to divine that 
he had something particular to say to her. If she were right 
in her conjecture, it was clear that the opportunity must be 
waited for, — until the nap, in which Mrs. Ludlow invariably 
indulged in the evening, should have set in. The sooner the 
conversation settled into sequence, the sooner this desirable 
event might be expected to take place ; so Til talked vigo- 
rously, and Charley seconded her efforts. Mrs. Ludlow 
said little, until, just as Charley began to think the nap was 
certainly coming, she asked him abruptly if he had seen 
Geoffrey lately. Miss Til happened to be looking at Charley 
as the question was put to him, and saw in a moment that 
the matter he had come to speak to her about concerned 
her brother. 

"No, ma'am," said Charley; "none of us have seen Geoff 
lately. Bowker and I have planned a state visit to him ; 
he's as hard to get at as a swell in the Government — with 
things to give away — what do you call it ? — patronage ; but 
we're not going to stand it. We can't do without Geoff. 
By the bye, how's the youngster, ma'am?" 

" The child is very well, I believe," said Mrs. Ludlow, with 
a shake of the head, which Charley Potts had learned to 
recognise in connection with the "cross," but which he saw 
with regret on the present occasion. " I'm afraid they've 
heard something," he thought. "But," continued the old 
lady querulously, "I see little of him, or of Geoffrey either. 
Things are changed; I suppose it's all right, but it's not easy 
for a mother to see it ; and I don't think any mother would 
like to be a mere visitor at her own sons house, — not that 
I am even much of that now, Mr. Potts ; for I am sure it's 
a month or more since ever I have darkened the doors of 
Elm Lodge, — and I shouldn't so much mind it, I hope, if it 
was for Geoffrey's good ; but I can't think it's that — " Here 
the old lady's voice gave way, and she left off with a kind 
of sob, which went to Charley's soft heart and filled him 
with inexpressible confusion. Til was also much taken aback, 
though she saw at once that her mother had been glad of 
the opportunity of saying her little say, under the influence 
of the mortification she had felt at Geoffrey's silence on 



324 Land at Last. 

the subject of her future visits to Elm Lodge. He had, 
as we have seen, made himself as delightful as possible in 
every other respect ; but he had been strictly reticent about 
Margaret, and he had not invited his mother and sister to 
his house. She had been longing to say all this to Til • and 
now she had got it out, in the presence of a third party, 
who would "see fair" between her justifiable annoyance 
and Til's unreasonable defence of her brother. Til covered 
Charley's embarrassment by saying promptly, in a tone of 
extreme satisfaction, 

" Geoffrey was here to-day ; he paid us quite a long visit." 
" Did he ?" said Charley ; " and is he all right ? " 
" O yes," said Til, " he is very well ; and he told us all 
about his pictures ; and, do you know, he's going to put 
baby and the nurse into a corner group, among the people 
on the Esplanade, — only he must wait till baby's back is 
stronger, and his neck leaves off waggling, so as to paint 
him properly, sitting up nice and straight in nurse's arms." 
And then Miss Til ran on with a great deal of desultory 
talk, concerning Geoffrey, and his description of the presents, 
and what he had said about Lord Caterham and Annie 
Maurice. Charley listened to her with more seriousness 
than he usually displayed; and Mrs. Ludlow sighed and 
shook her head at intervals, until, as the conversation 
settled into a dialogue, she gradually dropped asleep. Then 
Til's manner changed, and she lowered her voice, and 
asked Charley anxiously if he had come to tell her any 
bad news. 

" If you have," she said, " and that it can be kept from 
mamma, tell it at once, and let me keep it from her." 

With much true delicacy and deep sympathy, Charley 
then related to Til the scene which had taken place between 
himself. Bowker, and Stompff, — and told her that Bowker 
had talked the matter over with him, and they had agreed 
that it was not acting fairly by Geoffrey to allow him to 
remain in ignorance of the floating rumours, injurious to his 
wife's character, which were rife among their friends. How 
Stompff had heard of Margaret's having fainted in Lord 
Caterham' s room, Charley could not tell ; that he had heard it, 
and had heard a mysterious cause assigned to it, he knew. That 
he could have known any thing about an incident apparently 
so trivial proved that the talk had become tolerably general. 



Dismay. 325 

and was tending to the injury of Geoffrey, not only in his 
self respect and in his feelings, but in his prospects. Charley 
was much more alarmed and uneasy, and much more grieved 
for Geoffrey, than even Bowker ; for he had reason to fear 
that no supposition derogatory to Margaret's antecedents 
could surpass the reality. He alone knew where and how 
the acquaintance between Geoffrey and Margaret had begun, 
and he was therefore prepared to estimate the calamity of 
such a marriage correctly. He did not exactly know what 
he had intended to say to Matilda Ludlow ; he had come 
to the house with a vague idea that something ought to be 
done ; — that Til ought to speak to her sister-in-law, — a 
notion which in itself proved Charley Potts to be any thing 
but a wise man, — ought to point out to her that her indif- 
ference to her husband was at once ungrateful to him and 
short-sighted to her own interest ; and that people, notably 
his employer, were talking about it. Charley Potts was not 
exactly an adept in reading character, and the real Mar- 
garet was a being such as he could neither have understood 
nor believed in ; therefore the crudity, wildness, and inap- 
plicability of this scheme were to be excused. 

A very few words on his part served to open the sus- 
ceptible heart of Miss Til, especially as they had spoken on 
the subject, though generally, before; and they were soon 
deep in the exchange of mutual confidences. Til cried 
quietly, so as not to wake her mother; and it distressed 
Charley very keenly to see her tears and to hear her declare 
that her sister-in-law had not the slightest regard for her 
opinion ; that though perfectly civil to her, Margaret had 
met all her attempts at sisterly intimacy with most for- 
bidding coldness ; and that she felt sure any attempt to 
put their relation on a more familiar footing would be 
useless. * 

" She must have been very badly brought up, I am sure," 
said Til. " We don't know anything about her family : but 
I am sure she never learned what the duties of a wife and 
mother are." 

Charley looked admirably at Til as she sadly uttered this 
•emark, and his mind was divided between a vision of Til 
realising in the most perfect manner the highest ideal of 
conjugal and maternal duty, and speculating upon what 
might have been the polite fiction presented by Geoffrey to 



326 Land at Last. 

his mother and sister as an authentic history of Margaret's 
parentage and antecedents. 

"Did Geoffrey seem cheerful and happy to-day?" he 
asked, escaping off the dangerous ground of questions which 
he could have answered only too completely. 

" Well," replied Til, " I can't say he did. He talked and 
laughed, and all that ; but I could see that he was uneasy 
and unhappy. How much happier he was when we were all 
together, in the days which seem so far off now !" 

At this point the conversation became decidedly senti- 
mental ; for Charley, while carefully maintaining that true 
happiness was only to be found in the married state, was 
equally careful to state his opinion that separation from Til 
must involve a perfectly incomparable condition of misery ; 
and altogether matters were evidently reaching a climax. 
Matilda Ludlow was an unaffected honest girl : she knew 
perfectly well that Charley loved .her, and she had no par- 
ticular objection to his selecting this particular occasion on 
which to tell her so. But Til and Charley were not to part 
that evening in the .character of affianced lovers ; for in one 
of those significant pauses which precede important words, 
cab-wheels rolled rapidly up to the little gate, hurried foot- 
steps ran along the nagged path, and a loud knock and ring 
at the door impatiently demanded attention. 

Mrs. Ludlow awoke with a violent start : Charley and Til 
looked at each other. The door was opened, and a moment 
later the cook from Elm Lodge was in the room, and had 
replied to Charley's hurried question by the statement that 
her master was very ill, and she had been sent to fetch 
Miss Ludlow. 

"Very ill ! has any accident happened?" they all questioned 
the woman, who showed much feeling — all his dependents 
loved Geoffrey — and the confusion was so great, that it was 
some minutes before they succeeded in learning what actually 
had happened. That Geoffrey had returned home as usual ; 
had gone to the nursery, and played with the child and 
talked to the nurse as usual; had gone to his painting- 
room ; and had not again been seen by the servants, until 
the housemaid had found him lying on the hearth-rug an 
hour before, when they had sent for Dr. Brandram, and 
that gentleman had despatched the cook to bring Miss 
Ludlow. 



Dismay. 327 

"Did Mrs. Ludlow tell you to come ?" asked Til. 

To this question the woman replied that her mistress was 
not at home. She had been out the greater part of the day, 
had returned home some time later than Mr. Ludlow, and 
had kept the cab waiting for an hour; then she had gone 
away again, and had not returned when the cook had been 
sent on her errand. Charley Potts exchanged looks of 
undisguised alarm with Til at this portion of the woman's 
narrative, and, seeing that reserve would now be wholly 
misplaced, he questioned her closely concerning Mrs. Ludlow. 
She had nothing to tell, however, beyond that the housemaid 
had said her master and mistress had been together in the 
dining-room, and, surprised that dinner had not been ordered 
up, she had gone thither ; but hearing her mistress speaking 
" rather strangely," she had not knocked at the door. The 
servants had wondered at the delay, she said, not understand- 
ing why their master should go without his dinner because 
Mrs. Ludlow was not at home, and had at length found him 
as she described. 

"Did Mrs. Ludlow often go out in this way?" asked 
Mr. Potts. 

" No, sir, never," said the woman. " I never knew my 
mistress leave my master alone before, sir ; and I am afraid 
something has took place between them." 

The distress and bewilderment of the little party were 
extreme. Manifestly .there was but one thing to be done , 
Til must obey the doctor's summons, and repair immediately 
to her brother's house. He was very ill indeed, the cook 
said, and quite " off his head ; " he did not talk much, but 
what he did say was all nonsense ; and Dr. Brandram had 
said it was the beginning of brain-fever. Charley and Til 
were both surprised at the firmness and collectedness mani- 
fested by Mrs. Ludlow under this unexpected trial. > f ':ie 
was very pale and she trembled very much, but she was 
quite calm and quiet when she told Til that she mu.3t put 
up such articles of clothing as she would require for a few 
days, as it was her intention to go to her son and to remain 
with him. 

"I am the fittest person, my dear," said the old lady. 
"If it be only illness that ails him, I know more about it 
than you do ; if it is sorrow also, and sorrow of the kind I 
suspect, I am fitter to hear it and act in it than you." 



328 Land at Last. 

It was finally agreed that they should both go to Geoffrey's 
nouse and that Til should return home in the morning ; for 
even in this crisis Mrs. Ludlow could not quite forget her 
household gods, and to contemplate them bereft at once of 
her .own care and that of Til would have been too grievous ; 
50 they started — the three women in the cab, and Charley 
Potts on the box, very silent, very gloomy, and not even 
in his inmost thoughts approaching the subject of a pipe. 

It was past ten when Geoffrey Ludlow's mother and sister 
reached the house which had seen such terrible events since 
they had visited it last. Already the dreary neglected air 
which settles over every room in a dwelling invaded by serious 
illness, except the one which is the scene of suffering, had 
come upon it. Four hours earlier all was bright and cheerful, 
well cared for and orderly; now, though the disarray was 
not material, it was most expressive. Mrs. Geoffrey Ludlow 
had not returned ; the doctor had gone away, but was 
coming back as soon as possible, having left one of the 
servants by Geoffrey's bedside, with orders to apply wet 
linen to his temples without intermission. Geoffrey was 
quiet now — almost insensible, they thought. Mrs. Ludlow 
and Til went to the sick-room at once, and Charley Potts 
turned disconsolately into the dining-room, where the cloth 
was still laid, and the chairs stood about in disorder — one, 
which Geoffrey had knocked down, lay unheeded on the 
ground. Charley picked it up, sat down upon it, and leaned 
his elbows disconsolately on the table. 

"It's all up, I'm afraid," said he to himself; "and she's 
off with the other fellow, whoever he is. Well, well, it will 
either kill Geoff outright or break his heart for the rest of his 
life. At all events, there couldn't have been much good in 
her if she didn't like Til." 

After some time Dr. Brandram arrived, and Charley heard 
him ask the servant whether Mrs. Ludlow had returned, 
and heard her reply that her mistress was still absent, but 
Mrs. Ludlow and her daughter had come, and were in her 
master's room. The doctor went upstairs immediately, and 
Chariey still waited in the parlour, determined to waylay 
him has he came down. 

Geoffrey was dangerously ill, there was no doubt of that 
though his mother's terror magnified danger into hopeless- 
ness, and refused to be comforted by Dr. Brandram's 



Dismay. 329 

assurance that no living man for certain could tell how 
things would be. She met the doctor's inquiry about 
Margaret with quiet reserve : she did not expect her 
daughter-in-law's return that evening, she said ; but she and 
Miss Ludlow were prepared to remain. It Avas very- 
essential that they should do so, Dr. Brandram assured her ; 
and on the following day he would procure a professional 
nurse. Then he made a final examination of his patient, 
gave the ladies their instructions, observed with satisfaction 
the absence of fuss, and the quiet self-subduing alacrity of 
Til, and went downstairs, shaking his head and wondering, 
to be pounced upon in the little hall by the impulsive 
Charley, who drew him into the dining-room, and poured 
out a torrent of questions. Dr. Brandram was disposed to 
be a little reserved at first, but unbent when Charley assured 
him that he and Geoffrey were the most intimate friends — 
" Brothers almost," said Mr. Potts in a conscious tone, 
which did not strike the doctor. Then he told his anxious 
interlocutor that Geoffrey was suffering from brain-fever, 
which he supposed to be the result of a violent shock, but 
of what kind he could form no idea; and then he said 
something, in a hesitating sort of way, about "domestic 
affairs." 

"It is altogether on the mind, then," said Charley. "In 
that case, no one can explain any thing but himself." 

" Precisely so," said Dr. Brandram ; " and it may, it most 
probably will, be a considerable time before he will be able 
to give us any explanation of any thing, and before it would 
be safe to ask him for any. In the mean time,- — but no 
doubt Mrs. Ludlow will return, and — " 

" I don't think she will do any thing of the kind," said 
Charley Potts in a decisive tone ; " and, in fact, doctor, I 
think it would be well to say as little as possible about 
her." 

Dr. Brandram looked at Mr. Potts with an expression 
intended to be knowing, but which was in reality only 
puzzled, and assuring him of his inviolable discretion, 
departed. Charley remained at Elm Lodge until after 
midnight, and then, finding that he could be of no service 
to the watchers, sorrowfully wended his way back to town 
on :OOt. 

Wearily dragged on the days in the sick man's room, 



330 Land at Last. 

where he lay racked and tormented by fever, and vaguely 
oppressed in mind. His mother and sister tended him with 
unwearied assiduity, and Dr. Brandram called in further 
medical advice. Geoffrey's life hung in the balance for 
many days — days during which the terror his mother and 
Til experienced are not to be told. The desolate air of the 
house deepened ; the sitting-rooms were quite deserted now. 
All the bright pretty furniture which Geoff had bought for 
the delectation of his bride, all the little articles of use and 
ornament peculiarly associated with Margaret, were dust- 
covered, and had a ghostly seeming. Charley Potts — who 
passed a great deal of his time moping about Elm Lodge, 
too thankful to be permitted on the premises, and occasion- 
ally to catch a glimpse of Til's figure, as she glided noise- 
lessly from the sick-room ..o the lower regions in search of 
some of the innumerable things which are always being 
wanted in illness and are never near at hand — occasionally 
strolled into the painting-room, and lifting the cover which 
had been thrown over it, looked sadly at "The Esplanade 
at Brighton," and wondered whether dear old Geoff would 
ever paint baby's portrait among that group in the left-hand 
corner. 

The only member of the household who pursued his 
usual course of existence was this same baby. Unconscious 
alike of the flighty of his mother and the illness, nigh unto 
death, of his father, the child throve apace, and sometimes 
the sound of his cooing, crowing voice, coming through the 
open doors into the room where his grandmother sat and 
looked into the wan haunted face of her son, caused her 
unspeakable pangs of sorrow and compassion. The child 
" took to " Til wonderfully, and it is impossible to tell the 
admiration with which the soul of Charley Potts was filled, 
as he saw the motherly ways of the young lady towards the 
little fellow, happily unconscious that he did not possess a 
mother's love. 

Of Margaret nothing was heard. Mrs. Ludlow and Til 
were utterly confounded by the mystery which surrounded 
them. She made no sign from the time she left the house. 
Their ignorance of the circumstances of her departure was 
so complete, that they could not tell whether to expect her 
to do so or not. Her dresses and ornaments were all 
undisturbed in the drawers in the room where poor Geoffrey 



Dismay. 331 

lay, and they did not know whether to remove them or not. 
She had said to Geoffrey, " Whatever I actually require I 
will send for ; " but they did not know this, and she never 
had sent. The centre of the little system — the chief person 
in the household — the idolised wife — she had disappeared 
as utterly as if her existence had been only a dream. The 
only person who could throw any light on the mystery was, 
perhaps, dying — at all events, incapable of recollection, 
thought, or speech. It " got about " in the neighbourhood 
that Mr. Ludlow was dangerously ill, and that his mother 
and sister were with him, ' but his beautiful wife was not ; 
whereat the neighbourhood, feeling profoundly puzzled, 
merely looked unutterably wise, and had always thought 
there was something odd in. that quarter. Then the 
neighbourhood called to enquire and to condole, and was 
very pointed in its hopes that Mrs. Geoffrey Ludlow was 
"bearing up well," and very much astonished to receive for 
answer, " Thank you ma'am ; but missis is not at home." 
Mrs. Ludlow knew nothing of all this, and Til, who did 
know, cared nothing ; but it annoyed Charley Potts, who 
beard and saw a good deal from his post of vantage in the 
dining-room window, and who relieved his feelings by 
swearing under his breath, and making depreciatory com- 
ments upon the personal appearance of the ladies as they 
approached the house, with their faces duly arranged to the 
sympathetic pattern. 

It chanced that, on one occasion, when Geoffrey had 
been about ten days ill, Til came down to the dining-room 
to speak to the faithful Charley, carrying the baby on one 
arm, and in her other hand a bundle of letters. Charley 
took the child from her as a matter of course; and the 
youthful autocrat graciously sanctioning the arrangement, 
the two began to talk eagerly of Geoffrey. Til was looking 
very pale and weary, and Charley was much moved by her 
appearance. 

"I tell you what it is," he said, "you'll kill yourself, 
whether Geoffrey lives or dies." He spoke in a tone 
suggestive of feeling himself personally injured, and Til 
was not too far gone to blush and smile faintly as she 
perceived it. 

"O no, I sha'n't," she said. "I'm going to lie down all 



332 Land at Last. 

this afternoon in the night-nursery. Mamma is asleep now, 
and Geoffrey is quite quiet, though the nurse says she sees 
no change for the better, no real change of any kind indeed. 
And so I came down to, ask you what you think I had better 
do about these letters." She laid them on the table as she 
spoke. " I don't think they are business letters, because 
you have taken care to let all Geoffrey's professional friends 
know, haven't you, Charley?" 

Charley thrilled ; she had dropped unconsciously, in the 
intimacy of a common sorrow, into calling him by his 
Christian name, but the pleasure it gave him had by no 
means worn off yet. 

" Yes," he said ; " and you have no notion what a state 
they are all in about dear old Geoff. I assure you they all 
envy me immensely, because I can be of some little use to 
you. They don't come here, you know, because that would 
be no use — -only making a row with the door-bell, and 
taking up the servants' time ; but every day they come 
down to my place, or write me notes, or scribble their 
names on the door, with fat notes of interrogation after 
them, if I'm not at home. That means, ' How's dear old 
Geoff? send word at once.' Why, there's Stompff — I told 
you he was a beast, didn't I ? Well, he's not half a beast, I 
assure you ; he is in such a way about Geoff; and, upon my 
word, I don't think it's all because he is worth no end 
of money to him, — I don't indeed. He is mercenary, of 
course, but not always and not altogether; and he really 
quite got over me yesterday by the way he talked of 
Geoffrey, and wanted to know if there was any thing in the 
world he could do. Any thing in the world, according to 
Stompff, meant any thing in the way of money, I suppose ; 
an advance upon the 'Esplanade,' or something of that 
sort." 

" Yes, I suppose it did," said Til ; " but we don't want 
money. Mamma has plenty to go on with until — " here 
her lip quivered, — "until Geoffrey can understand and 
explain things. It's very kind of Mr. Stompff, however, 
and I'm glad he's not quite a beast," said the young lady 
simply. "But, Charley, about these letters; what should 
I do?" 

At this point the baby objected to be any longer 



Dismay. 333 

unnoticed, and was transferred to Til, who walked up and 
down the room with the injured innocent, while Charley 
turned over the letters, and looked at their superscriptions. 

"You are sure there is no letter from his wife among 
these?" said Charley. 

"O no!" replied Til; "I know Magaret's hand well; and 
I have examined all the letters carefully every day. There 
has never been one from her." 

"Here are two with the same monogram, and the West- 
end district mark ; I think they must be from Miss Maurice. 
If these letters can be made out to mean any thing, they 
are A.M. And see, one is plain, and one has a deep black 
edge." 

Til hurried up to the table. "I hope Lord Caterham is 
not dead," she said ! " I have heard Geoffrey speak of him 
with great regard ; and only the day he was taken ill, he said 
he feared the poor fellow was going fast." 

" I think we had better break the seal and see," said 
Charley; " Geoff would not like any neglect in that quarter." 

He broke the seal as he spoke, and read the melancholy 
note which Annie had written to Geoffrey when Arthur died, 
and which had never received an answer. 

Charley Potts and Til were much shocked and affected at 
the intelligence which the note contained. 

" I haven't cared about the papers since Geoff has been 
ill, or I suppose I should have seen the announcement of 
Lord Caterham's death, though I don't particularly care for 
reading about the swells at any time," said Charley. " But 
how nicely she writes to Geoffrey, poor girl ! I am sure she 
will be shocked to hear of his illness, and you must write to 
her, — h'm, — Til. What do you say to writing, and letting 
me take your letter to-morrow myself? Then she can 
ask me any questions she likes, and you need not enter into 
any painful explanations." 

Til was eminently grateful for this suggestion, which she 
knew was dictated by the sincerest and most disinterested 
wish to spare her ; for to Charley the idea of approaching 
the grandeur of St. Barnabas Square, and the powdered 
pomposity of the lordly flunkeys, was, as she well knew, 
wholly detestable. So it was arranged that Charley should 
fulfil this mission early on the following day, before he 
presented himself at Elm Lodge. The baby was sent 



334 Land at Last. 

upstairs, Til wrote her note, and Charley departed very 
reluctantly, stipulating that Til should at once fulfil her 
promise of lying down in the nursery. 

When, on the ensuing morning, Miss Maurice's maid 
reached Elm Lodge, the servants communicated to her the 
startling intelligence, which she roused Annie from her 
sleep to impart to her, without any reference to Mrs. 
Ludlow and Til, who were not aware for some time that 
Miss Maurice had sent to make inquiries. On his arrival 
at St. Barnabas Square, Charley Potts was immediately 
admitted to Annie's presence, and the result of the interview 
was that she arrived at Elm Lodge escorted by that 
gentleman, whose embarrassment under the distinguished 
circumstances was extreme, before noon. She knew from 
Charley's report that it would be quite in vain to take 
Caterham's letter with her; that it must be long ere it 
should meet the eyes for which it was written, if ever it were 
to do so, and it remained still undisturbed in her charge. 
So Annie Maurice shared the sorrow and the fear of 
Geoffrey's mother and sister, and discussed the mystery that 
surrounded the calamities which had befallen them, perfectly 
unconscious that within reach of her own hand lay the key 
to the enigma. 



CHAPTER VI. 

A CLUE. 

WRITTEN by a dying hand, the letter addressed by 
Lord Caterham to Geoffrey Ludlow was read 
when the doctors would scarcely have pronounced its 
recipient out of the jaws of death. Gaunt, wan, hectic; 
with great bistre-rings round his big eyes, now more 
prominent than ever; with his shapely white hands now 
almost transparent in their thinness; with his bushy beard 
dashed here and there with gray patches ; and with O such 
a sense of weariness and weakness, — old Geoff, stretched 
supine on his bed, demanded news of Margaret. They had 
none to give him : told him so— at first gently, then 
reiterated it plainly ; but he would not believe it. They 
must know something of her movements; some one must 



A Clue. 335 

have been there to tell him where she was; something 
must have been heard of her. To all these questions 
negative answers. Then, as his brain cleared and his 
strength increased — for, except under both of these con- 
ditions, such a question would not have occurred to him — 
he asked whether, during his illness, there had been any 
communication from Lord Beauport's house. A mystery- 
then — a desire to leave it over, until Miss Maurice's next 
call, which happened the next day, when Caterham's letter, 
intact, was handed to him. 

That letter lay on a chair by Geoffrey's bedside the whole 
of that afternoon. To clutch it, to look at it, to hold it, 
with its seal yet unbroken, before his eyes, he had employed 
such relics of strength as remained to him ; but he dared 
not open it. He felt that he could give no explanation of 
his feelings ; but he felt that if he broke that seal, and read 
what was contained in that letter, all his recent tortures 
would return with tenfold virulence : the mocking demons 
that had sat on his bed and sneered at him; the fiery 
serpents that had uncoiled themselves between him and the 
easel on which stood the picture which urgent necessity 
compelled him to work at; the pale fair form, misty and 
uncertain generally, yet sometimes with Margaret's hair 
and eyes, that so constantly floated across his vision, 
and as constantly eluded his outstretched arms,' — all these 
phantasms of his fevered brain would return again. And 
yet, in it, in that sheet of paper lying so temptingly near 
to his pillow, there was news of her ! He had but to 
stretch out his hand, and he should learn how far, at least, 

her story was known to the relatives of him who The 

thought in itself was too much ; and Geoffrey swooned off. 
When he recovered, his first thought was of the letter ; his 
first look to assure himself that it had not been removed. 
No, there it lay ! He could resist the temptation no longer ; 
and, raising himself on his elbow, he opened and read it. 

The effect of the perusal of that letter on Geoffrey 
Ludlow none knew but himself. The doctors found him 
" not quite so well " for the succeeding day or two, and 
thought that his " tone " was scarcely so good as they had 
been led to anticipate ; certain it was that he made no effort 
to rouse himself, and that, save occasionally, when spoken 
to by Til, he remained silent and preoccupied. On the 



336 Land at Last. 

third day he asked Til to write to Bowker, and beg him to 
come to him at once. Within twenty-four hours that worthy 
presented himself at Elm Lodge. 

After a few words with Til downstairs, Mr. Bowker was 
shown up to Geoffrey's room, the door of which Til opened, 
and, when Mr. Bowker had entered, shut it behind him. 
The noise of the closing door roused Geoffrey, and he turned 
in his bed, and, looking up, revealed such a worn and 
haggard face, that old Bowker stopped involuntarily, and 
drew a long breath, as he gazed on the miserable appearance 
of his friend. There must have been something comical in 
the rueful expression of Bowker's face, for old Geoff smiled 
feebly, as he said, 

"Come in, William; come in, old friend! I've had a 
hard bout of it, old fellow, since you saw me ; but there's no 
danger now — no infection, I mean, or any thing of that 
kind." 

Geoff spoke haphazard ; but what he had said was the 
best thing to restore Mr. Bowker to himself. 

" Your William's fever-proof," he growled out in reply, 
" and don't fear any nonsense of that kind ; and if he did, 
it's not that would keep him away from a friend's bedside. 
I should have been here — that is, if you'd have let me ; and, 
oddly enough, though I'm such a rough old brute in general, 
I'm handy and quiet in times of sickness,' — at least so I've 
been told ;" and here Bowker stifled a great sigh. " But the 
first I heard of your illness was from your sister's letter, which 
I only got this morning." 

" Give me your hand, William ; I know that fast enough. 
But I didn't need any additional nursing. Til and the old 
lady — God bless them ! — have pulled me through splendidly, 
and — But I'm beyond nursing now, William ; what I want 
is — " and Geoff's voice failed him, and he stopped. 

Old Bowker eyed him with tear-blurred vision for a 
moment, and then said, " What you want is — " 

" Don't mind me just now, William ; I'm horribly weak, 
and girlish, and trembling, but I shall get to it in time. 
What I want is, some man, some friend, to whom I can talk 
openly and unreservedly, — whose advice and aid I can 
seek, in such wretchedness as, I trust, but few have expe- 
rienced. 

It was a good thing that Geoffrey's strength had in some 



4 Clue. 



337 



degiee returned, for Bowker clutched his hand in an iron 
grip, as in a dull low voice, he said, " Do you remember my 
telling you the story of my life ? Why did I tell you that ? 
Not for sympathy, but for example. I saw the rock on to 
which you were drifting, and hoped to keep you clear. I 
exposed the sadness of my life to you when the game was 
played out and there was no possibility of redemption. I 
can't tell what strait you may be in ; but if I can help 
you out of it, there is no mortal thing I will not do to 
aid you. 

As well as he could Geoff returned the pressure ; then, 
after a moment's pause, said, " You know, of course, that my 
wife has left me?" 

Bowker bowed in acquiescence. 

" You know the circumstances ?" 

" I know nothing, Geoff, beyond the mere fact. Whatever 
talk there may be among such of the boys as I drop in upon 
now and then, if it turned upon you and your affairs, save in 
the matter of praising your art, it would be certain to be 
hushed as soon as I stepped in amongst them. They knew 
our intimacy, and they are by far too good fellows to say any 
thing that would pain me. So that beyond the mere fact 
which you have just stated, I know nothing." 

Then in a low weak voice, occasionally growing full and 
powerful under excitement, and subsiding again into its faint 
tone, Geoffrey Ludlow told to William Bowker the whole 
history of his married life, beginning with his finding Margaret 
on the door-step, and ending by placing in his friend's hands 
the posthumous letter of Lord Caterham. Throughout old 
Bowker listened with rapt attention to the story, and when 
he came back from the window, to which he had stepped 
for the perusal of the letter, Geoffrey noticed that there were 
big tears rolling down his cheeks. He was silent for a 
minute or two after he had laid the letter on Geoffrey's bed ; 
when he spoke, he said, " We're a dull lot, the whole race of 
us ; and that's the truth. We pore over our own twopenny 
6orrows, and think that the whole army of martyrs could not 
show such a specimen as ourselves. Why, Geoff, dear old 
man, what was my punishment to yours ! What was, — but, 
however, I need not talk of that. You want my services — 
say how." 

" I want your advice first, William. I want to know how 



338 Land at Last. 

to — how to find my wife — for, O, to me she is my wife ; 
how to find Margaret. You'll blame me probably, and tell 
me that I am mad — that I ought to cast her off altogether, 
and to — But I cannot do that, William ; I cannot do that \ 
for I love her — O my God, how I love her still !" And 
Geoffrey Ludlow hid his face in his arms, and wept like a 
child. 

" I shan't blame you, Geoff, nor tell you any thing of the 
kind," said old Bowker, in a deep low voice. "I should 
have been very much surprised if — However, that's neither 
here nor there. What we want is to find her now. You 
say there's not been the slightest clue to her since she left 
this house ?" 

" Not the slightest." 

"She has not sent for any thing — clothes, or any thing?" 

" For nothing, as I understand." 

" She has not sent, — you see, one must understand these 
things, Geoff; all our actions will be guided by them, — she 
has not sent to ask about the child?" 

Geoff shuddered for an instant, then said, " She has not." 

"That simplifies our plans," said Bowker. "It is plain 
now that we have only one chance of discovering her 
whereabouts." 

" And that is—" 

" Through Blackett the detective, the man mentioned in 
Lord Caterham's letter. He must be a sharp fellow; for 
through the sheer pursuance of his trade, and without the 
smallest help, he must have been close upon her trail, even 
up to the night when you met her and withdrew her from 
the range of his search. If he could learn so much unaided, 
he will doubtless be able to strike again upon her track with 
the information we can give him." 

" There's no chance of this man — this Captain Brakespere, 
having — I mean — now he's back, you know — having taken 
means to hide her somewhere — where — one couldn't find 
her, you know?" said Geoffrey, hesitatingly. 

"If your William knows any thing of the world," replied 
Bowker, " there's no chance of Captain Thingummy having 
taken the least trouble about her. However, I'll go down to 
Scotland Yard and see what is to be made of our friend 
Inspector Blackett. God bless you, old boy ! You know if 
she is to be found, I'll do it" 



A Clue. 



339 



They are accustomed to odd visitors in Scotland Yard ; 
but the police-constables congregated in the little stone hall 
stared the next day when Mr. Bowker pushed open the 
swing-door, and calmly planting himself among them, ejacu- 
lated "Blackett." Looking at his beard, his singular garb, 
and listening to his deep voice, the sergeant to whom he was 
referred at first thought he was a member of some foreign 
branch of the force ; then glancing at the general wildness 
of his demeanour, had a notion that he was one of the self- 
accused criminals who are so constantly forcing themselves 
into the grasp of justice, and who are so impatient of release ; 
and finally, comprehending what he wanted, sent him, under 
convoy of a constable, through various long corridors, into a 
cocoa-nut-matted room furnished with a long green-baize- 
covered table, on which were spread a few sheets of blotting- 
paper, and a leaden inkstand, and the walls of which were 
adorned with a printed tablet detailing the disposition of the 
various divisions of the police-force, and the situation of 
the fire-escapes in the metropolis, and a fly-blown Stationers' 
Almanac. Left to himself, Mr. Bowker had scarcely taken 
stock of these various articles, when the door opened, and 
Mr. Inspector Blackett, edging his portly person through 
the very small aperture which he had allowed himself for 
ingress, entered the room, and closed the door stealthily 
behind him. 

" Servant, sir," said he, with a respectful bow, and a glance 
at Bowker, which took in the baldness of his head, the 
thickness of his beard, the slovenliness of his apparel, and 
the very shape of his boots, — "servant, sir. You asked 
for me?" 

" I did, Mr. Blackett. I've come to ask your advice and 
assistance in a rather delicate manner, in which you've 
already been engaged— Lord Caterham's inquiry." 

" O, beg pardon, sir. Quite right. Friend of his lordship's, 
may I ask, sir ?" 

" Lord Caterham is dead, Mr. — " 

" Quite right, sir; all right, sir. Right to be cautious in 
these matters ; don't know who you are, sir. If you had not 
known that fact, must have ordered you out, sir. Imposter, 
of course. All on the square, Mr. — beg pardon ; didn't 
mention your name, sir." 

" My name is Bowker. To a friend of mine, too ill now 



340 Lana at Last. 

to follow the matter himself, Lord Caterham on his death- 
bed wrote a letter, detailing the circumstances under which 
he had employed you in tracing a young woman. That 
friend has himself been very ill, or he would have pursued 
this matter sooner. He now sends me to ask whether you 
have any news?" 

" Beg pardon, sir ; can't be too cautious in this matter. 
What may be the name of that friend ?" 

" Ludlow — Mr. Geoffrey Ludlow." 

" Right you are, sir ! Know the name well ; have seen 
Mr. Ludlow at his lordship's ; a pleasant gentleman too, sir, 
though not given me the idea of one to take much interest 
in such a business as this. However, I see we're all square 
on that point, sir ; and I'll report to you as exactly as I 
would to my lord, if he'd been alive, — feeling, of course, that 
a gentleman's a gentleman, and that an officer's trouble will 
be remunerated — " 

" You need not doubt that, Mr. Blackett." 

" I don't doubt it, sir ; more especially when you hear 
what I have got to tell. It's been a wearing business, Mr. 
Bowker, and that I don't deny ; there have been many cases 
which I have tumbled-to quicker, and have been able to lay 
my finger upon parties quicker ; but this has been a long 
chase ; and though other members of the force has chaffed 
me, as it were, wanting to know when I shall be free for any 
thing else, and that sort of thing, there's been that excite- 
ment in it that I've never regretted the time bestowed, 
and felt sure I should hit at it last. My ideas has not been 
wrong in that partic'ler, Mr. Bowker; I have hit it at last !" 

" The devil you have !" 

" I have indeed, sir ; and hit it, as has cur'ously happened 
in my best cases, by a fluke. It was by the merest fluke 
that I was at Radley's Hotel in Southampton and nobbled 
Mr. Sampson Hepworth, the absconding banker of Lombard 
Street, after Daniel Forester and all the city-men had been 
after him for six weeks. It was all a fluke that I was eatin' 
a Bath-bun at Swindon when the clerk that did them Post- 
office robberies tried to pass one of the notes to the refresh- 
ment gal. It was all a fluke that I was turning out of 
Grafton Street, after a chat with the porter of the Westminster 
Club, — which is an old officer of the G's and a pal of mine, 
— into Bond Street, when I saw a ladv that I'd swear tn. \{ 



A Clue. 341 

description's any use, though I never see her before, coram' 
out of Long's Hotel." 

"A lady !— Long's Hotel !" 

" A lady a-comin' out of Long's Hotel. A lady with — not 
to put too fine a point upon it — red hair and fine eyes and 
a good figure ; the very moral of the description I got at 
Tenby and them other places. I twigged all this before she 
got her veil down ; and I said to myself, ' Blackett, that's 
your bird, for a hundred pound.'" 

" And were you right ? Was it — " 

" Wait a minute, sir : let's take the things in the order in 
which they naturally present themselves. She hailed a cab 
and jumped in, all of a tremble like, as I could see. I 
hailed another — hansom mine was ; and I give the driver the 
office, which he tumbled-to at once— most of the West-enders 
knows me ; and we follows the other until he turned up a 
little street in Nottin' Til, and I, marking where she got out, 
stopped at the end of it. When she'd got inside, I walked up 
and took stock of the house, which was a little milliner's and 
stay-shop. It was cur'ous, wasn't, it, sir," said Mr. Blackett, 
with a grave professional smile, " that my good lady should 
want a little job in the millinery line done for her just then, 
and that she should look round into that very shop that 
evening, and get friendly with the missis, which was a com- 
municative kind of woman, and should pay her a trifle in 
advance, and should get altogether so thick as to be asked 
in to take a cup of tea in the back-parlour, and get a-talking 
about the lodger ? Once in, I'll back my old lady against 
any ferret that was ever showed at Jemmy Welsh's. She 
hadn't had one cup of tea before she know'd all about the 
lodger; how she was the real lady, but dull and lonesome 
like ; how she'd sit cryin' and mopin' all day ; how she'd no 
visitors and no letters ; and how her name was Lambert, and 
her linen all marked M. L. She'd only been there a day or 
two then, and as she'd scarcely any luggage, the milliner was 
doubtful about her money. My good lady came back that 
night, and told me all this, and I was certain our bird was 
caged. So I put one of our men regular to sweep a crossin' 
during the daytime, and I communicated with the sergeant 
of the division to keep the house looked after at night. But, 
Lor' bless you, she's no intention of goin' away. Couldn't 
manage it, I think, if she had ; for my missis, who's been up 



342 Land at Last. 

several times since, says the milliner says her lodger's in a 
queer way, she thinks." 

"How do you mean in a queer way?" interrupted 
Bowker; "ill?" 

" Well, not exactly ill, I think, sir. I can't say exactly 
how, for the milliner's rather a stupid woman ; and it wouldn't 
do for my missis — though she'd find it out in a minute — to 
see the lady. As far as I can make out, it's a kind of fits, 
and she seems to have had 'em pretty bad — off her head for 
hours at a time, you know. It's rather cornered me, that 
has, as I don't exactly know how to act in the case ; and I 
went round to the Square to tell his lordship, and then found 
out what had happened. I was thinking of asking to see the 
Hearl— " 

" The what, Mr. Blackett ?" 

" The Hearl — Hearl Beauport, his lordship's father. But 
now you've come, sir, you'll know what to do, and what 
orders to give me." 

" Yes, quite right," said Bowker, after a moment's con- 
sideration. " You must not see Lord Beauport ; he's in a 
sad state of mind still, and any further worry might be dan- 
gerous. You've done admirably, Mr. Blackett, — admirably 
indeed ; and your reward shall be proportionate, you may 
take my word for that ; but I think it will be best to leave 
matters as they are until — at all events, until I have spoken 
to my friend. The name was Lambert, I think you said ; 
and what was the address ?" 

" No. 102, Thompson Street, just beyond Nottin'-'Ul Gate; 
milliner's shop, name of Chapman. Beg your pardon, sir, 
but this is a pretty case, and one as has been neatly worked 
up ; you won't let it be spoilt by any amatoors ?" 

" Eh? — by what ? I don't think I understand you." 

" You won't let any one go makin' inquiries on their own 
hook ? So many of our best cases is spoilt by amatoors 
shovin' their oars in." 

" You may depend on that, Mr. Blackett ; the whole 
credit of the discovery is justly due to you, and you shall 
have it. Now good day to you ; I shall find you here, I 
suppose, when next I want you ?" 

Mr. Blackett bowed, and conducted his visitor through the 
hollow-sounding corridors, and bade him a respectful farewell 
at the door. Then, when William Bowker was alone, he 



Tracked. 343 

stopped, and shook his head sorrowfully, muttering, " A bad 
job, a bad job ! God help you, Geoff, my poor fellow ! there's 
more trouble in store for you — more trouble in store !" 



CHAPTER VII. 

TRACKED. 

THE news which Mr. William Bowker had heard from 
Inspector Blackett troubled its recipient considerably, 
and it was not until he had thought it over deeply and 
consumed a large quantity of tobacco in the process, that 
he arrived at any settled determination as to what was 
the right course to be pursued by him. His first idea 
was to make Geoffrey Ludlow acquainted with the whole 
story, and let him act as he thought best; but a little 
subsequent reflection changed his opinion on this point. 
Geoff was very weak in health, certainly in no fit state 
to leave his bed ; and yet if he heard that Margaret was 
found, that her address was known, above all that she was 
ill, Bowker knew him well enough to be aware that nothing 
would prevent him at once setting out to see her, and 
probably to use every effort to induce her to return with 
him. Such a course would be bad in every way, but in the 
last respect it would be fatal. For one certain reason 
Bowker had almost hoped that nothing more might ever 
be heard of the wretched woman who had fallen like a 
curse upon his friend's life. He knew Geoffrey Ludlow 
root and branch, knew how thoroughly weak he was, and 
felt certain that, no matter how grievous the injury which 
Margaret had done him, he had but to see her again— 
to see her more especially in sickness and misfortune — to 
take her back to his heart and to his hearth, and defy the 
counsel of his friends and the opinion of the world. That 
would never do. Geoff had been sufficiently dragged down 
by this unfortunate infatuation ; but he had a future which 
should be independent of her, undimmed by any tarnish 
accruing to him from those wondrous misspent days. So 
old Bowker firmly believed ; and to accomplish that end he 
determined that none ot Inspector Blackett's news should 



344 Land at Last. 

find its way to Geoffrey's ears, at all events until he, Bowker, 
had personally made himself acquainted with the state of 
affairs. 

It must have been an impulse of the strongest friendship 
and love for Geoff that induced William Bowker to under- 
take this duty ; for it was one which inspired him with 
aversion, not to say horror. At first he had some thoughts 
of asking Charley Potts to do it ; but then lie bethought 
him that Charley, headstrong, earnest, and impulsive as 
he was, was scarcely the man to be intrusted with such 
a delicate mission. And he remembered, moreover, that 
Charley was now to a great extent lie with Geoff's family, 
that he had been present at Geoff's first meeting with 
Margaret, that he had always spoken against her, and that 
now, imbued as he was likely to be with some of the strong 
feelings of old Mrs. Ludlow, he would be certain to make 
a mess of the mission, and, without the least intention 
of being offensive, would hurt some one's feelings in an 
unmistakable and unpardonable manner. No ; he must go 
himself, horribly painful as it would be to him. His had 
been a set gray life for who should say how many years ; 
he had not been mixed up with any woman's follies or 
griefs in ever so slight a degree, he had heard no woman's 
voice in plaintive appeal or earnest confession, he had seen 
no woman's tears or hung upon no woman's smile, since — • 
since when ? Since the days spent with her. Ah, how the 
remembrance shut out the present and opened up the long, 
long vistas of the past ! He was no longer the bald-headed, 
grizzle-bearded, stout elderly man ; he was young Bowker, 
from whom so much was expected ; and the common tavern- 
parlour in which he was seated, with its beer-stained tables 
and its tobacco-reek faded away, and the long dusty roads 
of Andalusia, the tinkling bells of the mules, the cheery 
shouts of the sunburnt arricros, the hard-earned pull at the 
bota, and the loved presence, now vanished for ever, rose in 
his memory. 

When his musings were put to flight by the entrance 
of the waiter, he paid his score, and summoning up his 
resolution he went out into the noisy street, and mounting 
the first omnibus was borne away to his destination. He 
found the place indicated to him by Blackett— a small but 
clean and decent street — and soon arrived at Mrs. Chap- 



IVacked. 345 

man's house. There, at the door, he stopped, undecided 
what to do. He had not thought of any excuse for de- 
manding an interview with Mrs. Chapman's lodger, and, 
on turning the subject over in his mind, he could not 
imagine any at all likely to be readily received. See Margaret 
he must ; and to do that, he thought he must take her 
unprepared and on a sudden : if he sent up his name, 
he would certainly be refused admittance. His personal 
appearance was far too Bohemian in its character to enable 
him to pass himself off as her lawyer, or any friend of her 
family ; his only hope was to put a bold front on it, to men- 
tion her name, and to walk straight on to her room, leaving 
it to chance to favour his efforts. 

He entered the shop — a dull dismal little place, with 
a pair of stays lying helplessly in the window, and a staring 
black-eyed torso of a female doll, for cap-making purposes, 
insanely smiling on the counter. Such a heavy footfall as 
Mr. Bowker's was seldom heard in those vestal halls ; such 
a grizzly-bearded face as Mr. Bowker's was seldom seen 
in such close proximity to the cap-making dummy ; and 
little Mrs. Chapman the milliner came out " all in a tremble," 
as she afterwards expressed it, from her inner sanctum, 
which was about as big and as tepid as a warm-bath, and 
in a quavering voice demanded the intruder's business. 
She was a mild-eyed, flaxen-haired, quiet, frightened little 
woman, and old Bowker's heart softened towards her, as he 
said, " You have a friend of mine lodging with you, ma'am, 
I think — Mrs. Lambert?" 

" O, dear ; then, if you're a friend of Mrs. Lambert's, 
you're welcome here, I can assure you, sir !" and the little 
woman looked more frightened than ever, and held up her 
hands half in fear, half in relief. 

"Ah, she's been ill, I hear," said Bowker, wishing to have 
it understood that he was thoroughly en rapport with the 
lodger. 

" 111 ! — I'm thankful you've come, sir ! — no one, unless 
they saw her, would credit how ill she is — I mean to be 
up and about, and all that. She's better to-day, and clearer; 
but what she have been these few days past, mortal tongue 
cannot tell — all delirium-like, and full of fancies, and talking 
of things which set Hannah — the girl who does for me — 
and me nearly out of our wits with fright. So much so, 



346 Land at Last. 

that six-and-sixpence a-week is — well, never mind, poor 
thing ; it's worse for her than for us ; but I'm glad, at any 
rate, some friend has come to see her." 

" I'll go and do so at once, Mrs. Chapman," said Bowker. 
" I know my way ; the door straight opposite to the front 
of the stairs, isn't it? Thank you; I'll find it;" and with 
the last words yet on his tongue, Mr. Bowker had passed 
round the little counter, by the little milliner, and was making 
the narrow staircase creak again with his weight. 

He opened the door opposite to him, after having knocked 
and received no answer, and peered cautiously in. The 
daylight was fading, and the blind of the window was hall 
down, and Bowker's eyesight was none of the best now, 
so that he took some little time before he perceived the 
outline of a figure stretched in the white dimity-covered 
easy-chair by the little Pembroke table in the middle ol 
the room. Although some noise had been made by the 
opening of the door, the figure had not moved ; it never 
stirred when Bowker gave a little premonitory cough to 
notify his advent; it remained in exactly the same position, 
without stirring hand or foot, when Bowker said, " A friend 
nas come to see you, Mrs. — Lambert." Then a dim un- 
defined sense of terror came upon William Bowker, and 
he closed the door silently behind him, and advanced into 
the room. Immediately he became aware of a faint sickly 
smell, a cloying, percolating odour, which seemed to fill 
the place ; but he had little time to think of this, for 
immediately before him lay the form of Margaret, her eyes 
closed, her features rigid, her long red hair falling in all 
its wild luxuriance over her shoulders. At first William 
thought she was dead ; but, stooping close over her, he 
marked her slow laboured breathing, and noticed that from 
time to time her hands were unclenched, and then closed 
again as tightly as ever. He took a little water from a 
tumbler on the table and sprinkled it on her face, and laid 
his finger on her pulse ; after a minute or two she opened 
her eyes, closing them again immediately, but after a time 
opening them again, and fixing them on Bowker's face with 
a long wistful gaze. 

"Are you one of them also?" she asked, in a deep 
hushed voice. " How many more to come and gibber and 
point at me ; or, worse than all, to sit mutely staring at me 



Tracked. 347 

with pitiless unforgiving eyes ! How many more ? You 
are the latest. I have never seen you before." 

" O yes you have," said Bowker quietly, with her hand in 
his, and his eyes steadfastly fixed on hers—" O yes you 
have : you recollect me, my dear Mrs. Ludlow." 

He laid special stress on the name, and as he uttered the 
words, Margaret started, a new light flashed into her beautiful 
eyes, and she regarded him attentively. 

"What was that you said?" she asked; "what name did 
you call me?" 

" What name ? Why, your own, of course ; what else 
should I call you, my dear Mrs. Ludlow?" 

She started again at the repetition, then her eyes fell, and 
she said dreamily, 

" But that is not my name — that is not my name." 

Bowker waited for a moment, and then said, 

" You might as well pretend to have forgotten me and our 
talk at Elm Lodge that day that I came up to see Geoffrey." 

" Elm Lodge ! Geoffrey ! — ah, good God, now I remember 
all !" said Margaret, in a kind of scream, raising herself in 
the chair, and wringing Bowker's hand. 

" Hush, my dear Madam ; don't excite yourself; I thought 
you would remember all ; you — " 

"You are Mr. Bowker!" said Margaret, pressing her 
hand to her head ; " Mr. Bowker, whose story Geoff told 
me : Geoff ! ah, poor, good Geoff !, ah, dear, good Geoff ! 
But why are you here? he hasn't sent you? Geoffrey has 
not sent you ?" 

" Geoffrey does not know I am here. He has been very 
ill ; too ill to be told of all that has been going on ; too 
ill to understand it, if he had been told. I heard by acci- 
dent that you were living here, and that you had been ill ; 
and I came to see if I could be of any service to you." 

While he had been speaking, Margaret had sat with her 
head tightly clasped between her hands. When he finished, 
she looked up with a slightly dazed expression, and said, 
with an evident attempt at controlling her voice, " I see 
all now ; you must pardon me, Mr. Bowker, for any in- 
coherence or strangeness you may have noticed in my 
manner ; but I have been very ill, and I feel sure that 
at times my mind wanders a little. I am better now. I 
was quite myself when you mentioned about your having 



348 Land at Last. 

heard of my illness, and offering me service ; and I thank 
you very sincerely for your kindness." 

Old William looked at her for a minute, and then said, 

" I am a plain-spoken man, Mrs. Ludlow — for you are 
Mrs. Ludlow to me — as I daresay you may have heard, 
if you have not noticed it yourself; and I tell you plainly 
that it is out of no kindness to you that I am here now, but 
only out of love for my dear old friend." 

" I can understand that," said Margaret ; " and only 
respect you the more for it ; and now you are here, Mr. 
Bowker, I shall be very glad to say a few words to you, — 
the last I shall ever say regarding that portion of my life 
which was passed in — at — You know what I would say ; 
you have heard the story of the commencement of my ac- 
quaintance with Geoffrey Ludlow?" 

Bowker bowed in acquiescence. 

" You know how I left him — why I am here?" 

Then William Bowker — the memory of all his friend's 
trouble and misery and crushed hopes and wasted life 
rising up strongly within him — set his face hard, and said, 
between his clenched teeth, " I know your history from two 
sources. Yesterday, Geoffrey Ludlow, scarce able to raise 
himself in his bed, so weak was he from the illness which 
your conduct brought upon him, told me, as well as he 
could, of his first meeting with you, his strange courtship, 
his marriage, — at which I was present, — of his hopes and 
fears, and all the intricacies of his married life ; of the 
manner in which, finally, you revealed the history of your 
previous life, and parted from him. Supplementing this 
story, he gave me to read a letter from Lord Caterham, 
the brother of the man you call your husband. This man, 
Captain Brakespere, flying from the country, had written 
to his brother, informing him that he had left behind him 
a woman who was called his mistress, but who was in 
reality his wife. To find this woman Lord Caterham made 
his care. He set the detectives to work, and had her 
tracked from place to place ; continually getting news of, 
but never finding her. While he lived, Lord Caterham 
never slackened from the pursuit ; finding his end ap- 
proaching — -" 

"His end approaching! — the end of his life do you 
mean?" 



Tracked. 349 

" He is dead. But before he died, he delegated the duty 
of pursuit, of all men in the world, to Geoffrey Ludlow, — 
to Geoffrey Ludlow, who, in his blind ignorance, had 
stumbled upon the very woman a year before, had saved her 
from a miserable death, and, all unknowingly, had fondly 
imagined he had made her his loving wife." 

" Ah, my God, this is too much ! And Geoffrey Ludlow 
knows all this?" 

" From Geoffrey Ludlow's lips I heard it not twenty-four 
hours since." 

Margaret uttered a deep groan and buried her face in her 
hands. When she raised her head her eyes were tear- 
blurred, and her voice faltered as she said, " I acknowledge 
my sin, and — so far as Geoffrey Ludlow is concerned — 
I deeply, earnestly repent my conduct. It was prompted 
by despair ; it ended in desperation. Have those who con- 
demned me — and I know naturally enough I am condemned 
by all his friends — have those who condemned me ever 
known the pangs of starvation, the grim tortures of house- 
lessness in the streets ? Have they ever known what it 
is to have the iron of want and penury eating into their 
souls, and then to be offered a comfortable home and an 
honest man's love ? If they have, I doubt very much 
whether they would have refused it. I do not say this 
to excuse myself. I have done Geoffrey Ludlow deadly 
wrong; but when I listened to his proffered protestations, 
I gave him time for reflection; when I said 'Yes' to his 
repeated vows, I thought that the dead past had buried 
its dead, and that no ghost from it would arise to trouble 
the future. I vowed to myself that I would be true to that 
man who had so befriended me ; and I was true to him. 
The life I led was inexpressibly irksome and painful to 
me ; the dead solemn monotony of it goaded me almost 
to madness at times; but I bore it — bore it all out of 
gratitude to him — would have borne it till now if he had 
not come back to lure me to destruction. I do not say 
I did my duty; I am naturally undomestic and unfitted 
for household management ; but I brought no slur on 
Geoffrey Ludlow's name in thought or deed until that man 
returned. I have seen him, Mr. Bowker; I have spoken 
to him, and he spurned me from him ; and yet I love him 
as I loved him years ago. He need only raise his finger, 



35o Land at Last. 

and I would fly to him and fawn upon him, and be grateful 
if he but smiled upon me in return. They cannot under- 
stand this — they cannot understand my disregard of the 
respectabilities by flinging away the position and the name 
and the repute, and all that which they had fitted to me, 
and which clung to me, ah, so irritatingly ; but if all I have 
heard be true, you can understand it, Mr. Bowker, — you 
can. — Is Geoffrey out of danger?" 

The sudden change in the tone of her voice, as she 
uttered the last sentence, struck on Bowker's ear, and 
looking up, he noticed a strange light in her eyes. 

"Geoffrey is out of "danger," he replied; "but he is still 
very weak, and requires the greatest care." 

"And requires the greatest care !" she repeated. "Well, 
he'll get it, I suppose ; but not from me. And to think 
that I shall never see him again ! Poor Geoffrey ! poor, 
good Geoffrey ! How good he was, and how grave ! — with 
those large earnest eyes of his, and his great head, and 
rough curling brown hair, and— the cruel cold, the pitiless 
rain, the cruel, cruel cold !" As she said these words, she 
crept back shivering into her chair, and wrapped her dress 
round her. William Bowker bent down and gazed at her 
steadily ; but after an instant she averted her face, and hid 
it in the chair. Bowker took her hand, and it fell passively 
into his own ; he noticed that it was burning. 

"This will not do, Mrs. Ludlow!" he exclaimed; "you 
have over-excited yourself lately.. You want rest and looking 
after — you must — " he stopped; for she had turned her head 
to him again and was rocking herself backwards and for- 
wards in her chair, weeping meanwhile as though her heart 
would break. The sight was too much for William to bear 
unaided, and he opened the door and called Mrs. Chapman. 

"Ah, sir," said the good little woman when she entered 
the room, "she's off again, I see. I knew she was, for I 
heard that awful sobbing as I was coming up the stairs. O, 
that awful sobbing that I've laid awake night after night 
listening to, and that never seemed to stop till daylight, 
when she was fairly Wore out. But that's nothing, sir, com- 
pared to the talk when she's beside herself. Then she'd go 
on and say — " 

^ " Yes, yes, no doubt, Mrs. Chapman," interrupted Bowker, 
who did not particularly wish to be further distressed by the 



Tracked. 351 

narration of Margaret's sadness ; " but this faintness, these 
weeping fits, are quite enough to demand the instant atten- 
tion of a medical man. If you'll kindly look to her now, 
I'll go off and fetch a doctor; and if there's a nurse required 
- — as I've little doubt there will be — you won't mind me 
intruding further upon you ? No ; I knew you'd say so. 
Mrs. Lambert's friends will ever be grateful to you; and 
here's something just to carry you on, you know, Mrs. 
Chapman — rent and money paid on her account, and that 
sort of thing." The something was two sovereigns, which 
had lain in a lucifer-match box used by Mr. Bowker as his 
bank, and kept by him in his only locked drawer for six 
weeks past, and which had been put aside for the purchase 
of a " tweed wrapper" for winter wear. 

Deliberating within himself to what physician of eminence 
he should apply, and grievously hampered by the fact that 
he was unable to pay any fee in advance, Bowker suddenly 
bethought him of Dr. Rollit, whose great love of art and its 
professors led him, "in the fallow leisure of his life," to 
constitute himself a kind of honorary physician to the 
brotherhood of the brush. To him Bowker hastened, and, 
without divulging Margaret's identity, explained the case, 
and implored the doctor to see her at once. The doctor 
hesitated for a moment, for he was at his easel and in a 
knot. He had " got something that would not come right," 
and he scarcely seemed inclined to move until he had con- 
quered his difficulty ; but after explaining the urgency of 
the case, old Bowker took the palette and sheaf of brushes 
from the physician's hand and said, "I think we can help 
each other at this moment, doctor : go you and see the 
patient, and leave me to deal with this difficulty. You'll 
find me here when you come back, and you shall then look 
at your canvas." 

But when Dr. Rollit, after a couple of hours' absence, 
returned, he did not look at his picture— at least on his first 
entry. He looked so grave and earnest that William 
Bowker, moving towards him to ask the result of his visit, 
was frightened, and stopped. 

" What is the matter?" he asked ; " you seem — " 

" I'm a little taken aback — that's all, old friend," said th? 
doctor; " you did not prepare me to find in my patient an 
old acquaintance— you did not know it, perhaps ?" 



352 Land at Last 

" By Jove ! I remember now : Charley Potts said — What 
an old ass I am ! " 

" I was called in by Potts and Ludlow, or rather called 
out of a gathering of the Titians, to attend Mrs. Lambert, as 
the landlady called her, nearly two years ago. She is not 
much altered — outwardly — since I left her convalescent." 

" You lay a stress on ' outwardly ' — what is the inner 
difference?" 

"Simply that her health is gone, my good fellow; her 
whole constitution utterly shattered ; her life not worth a 
week's purchase." 

" Surely you're wrong, doctor. Up to within the last few 
weeks her health has been excellent." 

"My dear William Bowker, I, as an amateur, meddle with 
your professional work ; but what I do is on the surface, 
and the mistakes I make are so glaring, that they are recog- 
nisable instantly. You might meddle, as an amateur, with 
mine, and go pottering on until you'd killed half a parish, 
without any body suspecting you. The disease I attended 
Mrs. — there ! it's absurd our beating about the bush any 
longer — Mrs. Ludlow for was rheumatic fever, caught from 
exposure to cold and damp. The attack I now find left 
behind it, as it generally does, a strong predisposition to 
heart-disease, which, from what I learn from her, seems to 
have displayed itself in spasms and palpitations very shortly 
afterwards." 

" From what you learn from her? She was sensible, then, 
when you saw her?" 

" She was sensible before I left her ; ay, and that's the 
deuce of it. Partly to deaden the pain of these attacks, 
partly, as she said herself just now, to escape from thought, 
she has had recourse to a sedative, morphia, which she has 
taken in large quantities. I smelt it the instant I entered 
her room, and found the bottle by her side. Under this 
influence she is deadened and comatose ; but when the 
reaction comes — Poor creature! poor creature!" and the 
kind-hearted doctor shook his head sadly. 

"Do you consider her in absolute danger?" asked Bowker, 
after a pause. 

" My dear fellow it is impossible to say how long she may 
last ; but — though I suppose that's out of the question now, 
eh? — people will talk, you know, and I've heard rumours;—- 



In the Deep Shadow. 353 

but if her nusband wished to see her, I should say fetch him 
at once." 

"If her husband wished to see her !" said old Bowker to 
himself, as he walked away towards his lodgings, — "if her 
husband wished to see her ! He don't — at least the real 
one don't, I imagine ; and Geoff mustn't ; though, if he 
knew it, nothing would keep him away. But that other — - 
Captain Brakespere — he ought to know the danger she's in ; 
he ought to have the chance of saying a kind word to her 
before — He must be a damned villain !" said old William, 
stopping for an instant, and pondering over the heads of the 
story ; " but he deserves that chance, and he shall have it." 

Pursuant to his determination, Mr. Bowker presented 
himself the next day at Long's Hotel, where he recollected 
Mr. Blackett had informed him that Captain Brakespere 
was stopping. The porter, immediately divining from Mr. 
Bowker's outward appearance that he meditated a raid upon 
coats, hats, or any thing that might be lying about the 
coffee-room, barricaded the entrance with his waistcoat, and 
parleyed with the visitor in the hall. Inquiring for Captain 
Brakespere, Mr. Bowker was corrected by the porter, who 
opined " he meant Lord Catrum." The correction allowed 
and the inquiry repeated, the porter replied that his "lordship 
had leff," and referred the inquirer to St. Barnabas Square. 

To St. Barnabas Square Mr. Bowker adjourned, but there 
learned that Lord Caterham had left town with Mr. Barford, 
and would not be back for some days. 

And meanwhile the time was wearing by, and Margaret's 
hold on life was loosening day by day. Would it fail alto- 
gether before she saw the man who had deceived her so 
cruelly ? would it fail altogether before she saw the man 
whom she had so cruelly deceived ? 



CHAPTER VIII. 

IN THE DEEP SHADOW. 

IN the presence of the double sorrow which had fallen 
upon her, Annie Maurice's girlhood died out. Arthur 
was gone, and Geoffrey in so suffering a condition of body 

2 A 



354 Land at Last, 

and mind that it would have been easier to the tender- 
hearted girl to know that he was at rest, even though she 
had to face all the loneliness which would then have been 
her lot. Her position was very trying in all its aspects at 
this time ; for there was little sympathy with her new sorrow 
at the great house which she still called home, and where 
she was regarded as decidedly "odd." Lady Beauport 
considered that Caterham had infected her with some of his 
strange notions, and that her fancy for associating with 
"queer" people, removed from her own sphere not more by 
her heiress-ship than by her residence in an earl's house and 
her recognition as a member of a noble family, was charge- 
able to the eccentric notions of her son. Annie came and 
went as she pleased, free from comment, though not from 
observation ; but she was of a sensitive nature ; she could 
not assert herself, and she suffered from the consciousness 
that her grief, her anxiety, and her constant visits to Lowbar 
were regarded with mingled censure and contempt. Her 
pre-occupation of mind prevented her noticing many things 
which otherwise could not have escaped her attention ; but 
when Geoffrey's illness ceased to be actively dangerous, and 
the bulletin brought her each morning from Til by the hands 
of the faithful Charley contained more tranquillising but 
still sad accounts of the patient, she began to observe an 
air of mystery and preparation in the household. The few 
hours which she forced herself to pass daily in the society 
of Lady Beauport had been very irksome to her since Arthur 
died, and she had been glad when they were curtailed by 
Lady Beauport's frequent plea of "business" in the evenings, 
and her leaving the drawing-room for her own apartments. 
Every afternoon she went to Elm Lodge, and her presence 
was eagerly hailed by Mrs. Ludlow and Til. She had seen 
Geoffrey frequently during the height of the fever ; but since 
the letter she had kept in such faithful custody had reached 
his hands she had not seen him. Though far from even the 
vaguest conjecture of the nature of its contents, she had 
dreaded the effect of receiving a communication from his 
dead friend on Geoffrey Ludlow, and had been much relieved 
when his mother told her, on the following day, that he was 
very calm and quiet, but did not wish to see any one for a 
few days. Bowker and he had fully felt the embarrassment 
of the position in which Lord Caterham's revelation had 



In the Deep Shadow. 355 

placed Geoffrey with regard to Annie Maurice, and the 
difficulties which the complications produced by Margaret's 
identity with Lionel Brakespere's wife added to Ludlow's 
fulfilment of Caterham's trust. They had agreed — or rather 
Bowker had suggested, and Geoffrey had acquiesced, with 
the languid assent of a mind too much enfeebled by illness 
and sorrow to be capable of facing any difficulty but the 
inevitable, immediate, and pressing — that Annie need know 
nothing for the present. 

"She could hardly come here from the Beauports, Geoff," 
Bowker had said; "it's all nonsense, of course, to men like 
you and me, who look at the real, and know how its bitter- 
ness takes all the meaning out of the rubbish they call rules 
of society ; but the strongest woman is no freer than Gulliver 
in his fetters of packthread, in the conventional world she 
lives in. We need not fret her sooner than it must be done, 
and you had better not see her for the present." 

So Annie came and went for two or three days and did 
not see Geoffrey. Mrs. Ludlow, having recovered from the 
sudden shock of her son's illness and the protracted terror 
of his danger, had leisure to feel a little affronted at his 
desire for seclusion, and to wonder audibly why she should 
be supposed to do him more harm than Mr. Bowker. 

"A big blundering fellow like that, Til," she said; "and 
I do assure you, Miss Maurice, he quite forgot the time for 
the draught when he was shut up there with him the other 
day — and talk of he's doing Geoffrey no harm ! All I can 
say is, if Geoffrey had not been crying when I went into his 
room, and wasn't trembling all over in his bed, I never was 
so mistaken before." 

Then Til and Annie looked blankly at each other, in 
mute wonder at this incomprehensible sorrow — for the 
women knew nothing but that Margaret had fled with a 
former lover — so much had been necessarily told them, 
under Bowker's instructions, by Charley Potts ; and Annie, 
after a little, went sorrowfully away. 

That day at dinner Lord Beauport was more than usually 
kind in his manner to her ; and Annie considered it due to 
him, and a fitting return for some inquiries he had made for 
"her friend," which had more of warmth and less of con- 
descension than usual in their tone, to rouse herself into 
greater cheerfulness than she had yet been able to assume. 

2 a 2 



35^ Land at Last. 

Lady Beauport rose sooner than usual ; and the two ladies 
had hardly seated themselves in the dreary drawing-room 
when the Earl joined them. There was an air of preparation 
in Lord Beauport's manner, and Annie felt that something 
had happened. 

The thing which had happened was this — Lady Beauport 
had not miscalculated her experienced power of managing 
her husband. She had skilfully availed herself of an admis- 
sion made by him that Lionel's absence, at so great a 
distance just then was an unfortunate complication ; that 
the necessary communications were rendered difficult and 
tedious; and that he wished his "rustication" had been 
nearer home. The Countess caught at the word 'rustica- 
tion : ' then not expulsion, not banishment, was in her 
husband's mind. Here was a commutation oLher darling's 
sentence ; a free pardon would follow, if she only set about 
procuring it in the right way. So she resorted to several 
little expedients by which the inconvenience of the heir's 
absence was made more and more apparent : having once 
mentioned his name, Lord Beauport continued to do so ; — 
perhaps he was in his secret heart as much relieved by the 
breaking of the ban as the mother herself; — and at length, 
on the same day which witnessed William Bowker's visit to 
Lionel Brakespere's deserted wife, Lady Beauport acknow- 
ledged to her husband that their son was then in London, 
and that she had seen him. The Earl received her com- 
munication in frowning silence ; but she affected not to 
observe his manner, and expatiated, with volubility very 
unusual to her, upon the fortunate concurrence of circum- 
stances which had brought Lionel to England just as his 
improved position made it more than ever probable he 
would be perfectly well received. 

" That dear Mr. Barford," she said — and her face never 
changed at the name of the man in whose arms her son had 
died so short a time before — " assures me that every one is 
delighted to see him. And really, George, he mustn't stay 
at Long's, you know — it looks so bad — for every one knows 
he's in town ; and if we don't receive him properly, that will 
be just the way to rake up old stories. I'm sure they're old 
enough to be forgotten ; and many a young man has done 
worse than Lionel, and — " 

"Stop, Gertrude," said Lord Beauport sternly; "stick to 



In the Deep Shadow. 357 

the truth, if you please. I hope very few young men in our 
son's position have disgraced it and themselves as he has 
done. The truth is, that we have to make the best of a 
misfortune. He has returned ; and by so doing has added 
to the rest a fresh rascality by breaking his pledged word. 
Circumstances oblige me to acquiesce, — luck is on his side, 
— his brother's death — " Lord Beauport paused for a 
moment, and an expression, hitherto unfamiliar, but which 
his wife frequently saw in the future, flitted over his face — 
"his brother's death leaves me no choice. Let us say as 
little as possible on this subject. He had better come here, 
for every reason. For appearances' sake it is well ; and he 
will probably be under some restraint in this house." Here 
the Earl turned to leave the room, and said slowly as he 
walked towards the door, " Something tells me, Gertrude, 
that in Arthur's death, which we dreaded too little and 
mourn too lightly, we have seen only the beginning of evils." 

Lady Beauport sat very still and felt very cold after he 
left her. Conscience smote her dumbly, — in days to come 
it would find a voice in which to speak, — and fear fell upon 
her. " I will never say any thing to him about Annie 
Maurice," she said to herself, as the first effect of her 
husband's words began to pass away ; "I do believe he 
would be as hard on Lionel as poor Arthur himself, and 
warn the girl against him." 

How relieved she felt as she despatched a note to Lionel 
Brakespere, telling him she had fulfilled her task, and 
inviting him to return to his father's house when he pleased ! 

Assuredly the star of the new heir was in the ascendant ; 
his brother was dead, his place restored to him, and society 
ready to condone all his " follies," — which is the fashionable 
synonym for the crimes of the rich and the great. If Lionel 
Brakespere could have seen "that cursed woman" — as in 
his brutal anger he called his wife a hundred times over, as 
he fretted and fumed over the remembrance of their interview 
— as William Bowker saw her that day, — he would have 
esteemed himself a luckier fellow still than he did when he 
lighted his cigar with his mother's note, and thought how 
soon he would change that " infernal dull old hole " from 
what it was in Caterham's time, and how he would have 
every thing his own way now. 

Such, as far as his knowledge of them extended, and 



358 Land at Last. 

without any comment or expression of opinion of his own, 
were the circumstances which Lord Beauport narrated to 
Annie. She received his information with an indescribable 
pang, compounded of a thousand loving remembrances of 
Arthur and a keen resuscitation by her memory of the scene 
of Lionel's disgrace, to which she and her lost friend had 
been witnesses. She could hardly believe, hardly understand 
it all; and the clearest thought which arose above the 
surging troubled sea within her breast was, that the place 
which knew Arthur no more would be doubly empty and 
desolate when Lionel should fill it. 

The tone in which Lord Beauport had spoken was grave 
and sad, and he had confined himself to the barest announce- 
ment. Annie had listened in respectful silence ; but though 
she had not looked directly at her, she was conscious of 
Lady Beauport's reproachful glances, addressed to her 
husband, as he concluded by saying coldy, 

" You were present, Annie, by my desire, when I declared 
that that which is now about to happen should never be, 
and I have thought it necessary to explain to you a course 
of conduct on my part which without explanation would 
have appeared very weak and inconsistent. As a member 
of my family you are entitled to such an explanation ; and 
indeed, as an inmate of this house, you are entitled to an 
apology." 

" Thank you, my lord," said Annie, in a voice which, 
though lower than usual, was very firm. 

This was more than Lady Beauport's pride could bear. 
She began, fiercely enough, 

" Really, Lord Beauport, I cannot see — " 

But at that moment a servant opened the door and 
announced 

" Lord Caterham." 

The group by the fireside stood motionless for a moment, 
as Lionel, dressed in deep mourning, advanced towards 
them with well-bred ease and perfect unconcern. Then Lady 
Beauport threw herself into his arms ; and Annie, hardly 
noticing that Lord Beauport had by an almost involuntary 
movement stretched out his hand to the handsome prodigal, 
glided past the three, hurried to her own room, and, having 
locked the door, sank down on h*"r knees beside her bed 
in an agony of grief. 



In the Deep Shadow. 359 

Three days elapsed, during which events marched with a 
steady pace at Elm Lodge and at the lodging were the 
woman who had brought such wreck and ruin within that 
tranquil-looking abode was lying contending with grief and 
disease, dying the death of despair and exhaustion. When 
Bowker returned from his unsuccessful quest for Lionel 
Brakespere, he found that she had passed into another phase 
of her malady, — was quiet, dreamy, and apparently forgetful 
of the excitement she had undergone. She was lying quite 
still on her bed, her eyes half closed, and a faint unmeaning 
smile was on her lips. 

" I have seen her so for hours and hours, sir," said the 
gentle little landlady ; " and it's my belief it's what she takes 
as does it." 

So Bowker concluded that Margaret had found means to 
avail herself of the fatal drug from which she had sought 
relief so often and so long, in the interval of depression 
which had succeeded the delirium he had witnessed. He 
was much embarrassed now to know how to proceed. She 
required better accommodation and careful nursing, and he 
was determined she should have both, — but how that was 
to be managed was the question; and Bowker, the most 
helpless man in the world in such matters, was powerless 
to answer it. He had never imagined, as he had turned the 
probabilities over and over in his mind, that such a compli- 
cation as severe physical illness would arise ; and it routed 
all his plans, besides engaging all his most active sympathies. 
William Bowker had an extreme dread, indeed a positive 
terror, of witnessing bodily suffering in women and children; 
and had his anger and repulsion towards Margaret been far 
greater than they were, they would have yielded to pain and 
pity as he gazed upon the rigid lines of the pale weary face, 
from which the beauty was beginning to fade and drop away 
in some mysterious manner of vanishing, terrible to see and 
feel, but impossible to describe. He made the best pro- 
visional arrangements within his power, and went away, 
promising Mrs. Chapman that he would return on the 
following day to meet the doctor, and turned his steps in 
much mental bewilderment towards the abode of Charley 
Potts, purposing to consult him in the emergency, previous 
to their proceeding together to Lowbar. 

" I can't help it now," he thought ; " the women cannot 



360 Land at Last. 

possibly be kept out of the business any longer. If she were 
let to want any thing, and had not every care taken of her, 
dear old Geoff would never forgive any of us ; and it could 
not be hidden from him. I am sure she's dying ; and — I'm 
glad of it : glad for her sake, poor wretched creature ; and O 
so glad for his ! He will recover her death — he must; but I 
doubt whether he would recover her life. He would be for 
ever hankering after her, for ever remembering the past, and 
throwing away the remainder of his life, as he has thrown 
away too much of it already. No, no, dear old Geoff, this 
shall not be, if your William can save you. I know what a 
wasted life means ; and you shall put yours out at good 
interest, Geoff, please God." 

Charley was at home ; and he received Mr. Bowker's 
communication with uncommon gravity, and immediately 
bestowed his best attention upon considering what was to 
be done. He was not in the least offended by discovering 
that it had not been his William's intention to tell him 
any thing about it. " Quite right too," he observed. " I 
should have been of no use, if every thing had not been 
capsized by her illness ; and I don't like to know any thing 
I'm not to tell to Til. Not that she's in the least inquisitive, 
you know, — don't make any mistake about that, — but things 
are in such an infernally mysterious mess ; and then they 
only know enough to make them want to know more ; and 
I shouldn't like, under these circumstances — it would seem 
hypocritical, don't you see— and every thing must come out 
sometime, eh?" 

"O yes, I see," said Bowker drily; "but I have to tell 
you now, Charley ; for what the devil's to be done ? You 
can't bring her here and nurse her ; and I can't bring her to 
my place and nurse her, — yet she must be taken somewhere 
and nursed ; and we must be prepared with a satisfactory 
account of every thing we have done, when Geoff gets well ; 
and what are we to do ?" 

Mr. Potts did not answer for a few moments, but handed 
over the beer in an absent manner to Mr. Bowker; then, 
starting up from the table on which he had been sitting, he 
exclaimed, 

" I have it, William. Let's tell the women — Til, 1 mean, 
and Miss Maurice. They'll know all about it, bless you," 
said Charley, whose confidence in female resources was 



In the Deep Shadow. 361 

unbounded. " It's all nonsense trying to keep things dark, 
when they've got to such a pass as this. If Mrs. Ludlow's 
in the state you say, she will not live long ; and then Ceoft's 
difficulty, if not his trouble, will be over. Her illness alters 
every thing. Come on, Bowker; let's get on to Elm Lodge; 
tell Til, and Miss Maurice, if she's there; and let them make 
proper arrangements." 

" But, Charley," said Bowker, much relieved, in spite of 
his misgivings, by the suggestion, " you forget one important 
point. Miss Maurice is Brakespere's cousin, and she lives 
in his father's house. It won't do to bring her in." 

" Never you mind that, William," replied the impetuous 
Charley. Til can't act alone ; and old Mrs. Ludlow is 
nervous, and would not know what to do, and must not 
be told ; and I am sure Miss Maurice doesn't care a rap 
about her cousin — the ruffian — why should she? And I 
know she would do any thing in the world, no matter how 
painful to herself, and no matter whether he ever came to 
know it or not, that would serve or please Geoff." 

"Indeed !" said Bowker, in a tone half of inquiry, half of 
susprise, and looking very hard at Charley; "and how do 
you know that, eh, Charley?" 

"O, bother," answered that gentleman, "I don't know how 
I know it ; but I do know it ; and I am sure the sooner we 
act on my knowledge the better. So come along." 

So saying, Mr. Potts made his simple out-door toilet ; and 
the two gentlemen went out, and took their way towards the 
resort of omnibuses, eagerly discussing the matter in hand as 
they went, and Mr. Bowker finding himself unexpectedly 
transformed from the active into the passive party. 

It was agreed between them that Geoffrey should not be 
informed of Bowker's presence in the house, as he would 
naturally be impatient to learn the result of the mission with 
which he had intrusted him; and that result it was their 
present object to conceal. 

Fortune favoured the wishes of Bowker and Charley. 
Mrs. Ludlow was with her son ; and in the drawing-room, 
which was resuming somewhat of its former orderly and 
pleasant appearance, they found Miss Maurice and Til. The 
two girls were looking sad and weary, and Til was hardly 
brightened up by Charley's entrance, for he looked so much 
more grave than usual, that she guessed at once he had heard 



362 Land at Last. 

something new and important. The little party were too 
vitally interested in Geoffrey and his fortunes, and the 
occasion was too solemn for any thing of ceremony; and 
when Charley Potts had briefly introduced Bowker to Annie 
Maurice, he took Til's hand in his, and said, 

" Til, Geoffrey's wife has been found — alone, and very ill 
— -dying, as we believe !" 

" You are quite sure, William?" 

"I am quite sure, Geoffrey. Do you think I would deceive 
you, or take any thing for granted myself, without seeing and 
hearing what is so important to you ? She is well cared for 
in every respect. Your own care, when she needed it before, 
was not more tender or more effective. Be satisfied, dear 
old Geoff; be content." 

"You saw her — you really saw her ; and she spoke kindly 
of me?" asked Geoffeey with a pitiable eagerness which 
pained Bowker to witness. 

" I did. Yes, have I not told you again and again — " 
Then there was a moment's silence ; and Bowker thought, 
if she were not dying, how terrible this tenderness towards 
her would be, how inexplicable to all the world but him, how 
ruinous to Geoffrey; but as it was, it did not matter: it 
would soon be only the tenderness of memory, the pardon 
of the grave. 

Geoffrey was sitting in an arm-chair by the bedroom 
window which overlooked the pretty flower-garden and the 
lawn. He was very weak still, but health was returning, and 
with it the power of acute mental suffering, which severe 
bodily illness mercifully deadens. This had been a dreadful 
day to him. When he was able to sit up and look around 
the room from which all the graceful suggestive traces of a 
woman's presence had been carefully removed; when he saw 
the old home look upon every thing before his eyes (for 
Avhom the idea of home was for ever desecrated and de- 
stroyed), the truth presented itself to him as it had never 
before done, in equal horror and intensity, since the day the 
woman he loved had struck him a blow by her words which 
had nearly proved mortal. Would it had been so ! he thought, 
as his large brown eyes gazed wearily out upon the lawn and 
the flower-beds, and then were turned upon the familiar 
objects in the chamber, and closed with a shudder. His 



In the Deep Shadorv, 363 

large frame look gaunt and worn, and his hands rested 
listlessly upon the sides of his chair. He had requested 
them to leave him alone for a little, that he might rest 
previous to seeing Bowker. 

From the window at which Geoffrey sat he could see the 
nurse walking monotonously up and down the gravel-walk 
which bounded his little demesne with the child in her arms. 
Sometimes she stopped to pluck a flower and give it to the 
baby, who would laugh with delight and then throw it from 
him. Geoffrey watched the pair for a little, and then turned 
his head wearily away and put his question to Bowker, who 
was seated beside him, and who looked at him furtively with 
glances of the deepest concern. 

" You shall hear how she is, Geoff, — how circumstanced, 
how cared for, and by whom, from one who can tell you 
the story better than I can. Your confidence has not been 
misplaced." Geoffrey turned upon him the nervous anxious 
gaze which is so touching to see in the eyes of one who has 
lately neared the grave, and still seems to hover about its 
brink. William Bowker proceeded: "You have not asked 
for Miss Maurice lately. I daresay you felt too much 
oppressed by the information in Lord Caterham's letter, too 
uncertain of the future, too completely unable to make up 
your mind what was to be done about her, to care or wish 
to see her. She has been here as usual, making herself as 
useful as possible, and helping your mother and sister in 
every conceivable way. But she has done more for you 
than that, Geoff; and if you are able to see her now, I think 
you had better hear it all from herself." 

AVith these words "Bowker hurried out of the room ; and in 
a few minutes Annie Maurice, pale, quiet, and self-possessed, 
came in, and took her seat beside Geoffrey. 

What had she come to tell him ? What had she been 
doing for the help and service of her early friend,— she, this 
young girl so unskilled in the world's ways, so lonely, so 
dependent hitherto, — who now looked so womanly and 
sedate, — in whose brown eyes he saw such serious thought, 
such infinite sweetness and pity, — whose deep mourning 
dress clothed her slender figure with a sombre dignity new 
to it, and on whom a nameless change had passed, which 
Geoffrey had eyes to see now, and recognised even in that 
moment of painful emotion with wonder. 



364 Land at Last. 

Calmly, carefully subduing every trace of embarrassment 
for his sake, and in a business-like tone which precluded the 
necessity for any preliminary explanation, Annie told Geoffrey 
Ludlow that she had been made aware of the circumstances 
which had preceded and caused his illness. She touched 
lightly upon her sorrow and her sympathy, but passed on to 
the subject of Caterham's letter. Geoffrey listened to her in 
silence, his head turned away and his eyes covered with his 
hand. Annie went on : 

" I little thought, Geoffrey, when I was so glad to find 
that you were well enough to read Arthur's letter, and when 
I only thought of fulfilling so urgent a request as soon as I 
could, and perhaps diverting your mind into thoughts of our 
dear dead friend, that I was to be the means of making all 
this misery plain and intelligible. But it was so, Geoffrey 
and I now see that it was well. Why Arthur should have 
selected you to take up the search after his death I cannot 
tell, — I suppose he knew instinctively your fidelity and true- 
heartedness ; but the accident was very fortunate, for it 
identified your interests and mine, it made the fulfilment 
of his trust a sacred duty to me, and enabled me to do with 
propriety what no one else could have done, and what she — 
what Margaret — would not have accepted from another." 

Geoffrey started, let his hand fall from his face, and caught 
hers. "Is it you, then, Annie ?" 

"Yes, yes," she said, "it is I, Geoffrey; do not agitate 
yourself, but listen to me. When Mr. Bowker found Marga- 
ret, as you know he did, she was very ill, and — she had no 
protector and no money. What could he do ? He did the 
best thing; he told me, to whom Arthur's wishes were sacred, 
who would have done the same had you never existed — you 
know I am rich and free ; and I made all the needful 
arrangements for her at once. When all was ready for her 
reception— it is a pretty house at Sydenham, Geoffrey, and 
she is as well cared for as any one can be — I went to her, 
and told her I was come to take her home." 

" And she — Margaret — did she consent ? Did she think 
it was I who — " 

"Who sent me ?" interrupted Annie. "No, — she would 
not have consented ; for her feeling is that she has so 
wronged you that she must owe nothing to you any more. 
In this I know she is quite wrong; for to know that she was 



In the Deep Shadow. 365 

in any want or suffering would be still worse grief to you, — 
but that can never be, — and I did not need to contradict 
her. I told her I came to her in a double character ; that 
of her own friend — though she had not had much friendship 
for me, Geoffrey ; but that is beside the question — and — and 
— " here she hesitated for a moment, but then took courage 
and went on, " that of her husband's cousin." Geoffrey 
ground his teeth, but said never a word. She continued, 
with deepening light in her eyes and growing tenderness in 
her voice, " I told her how Arthur, whom I loved, had 
sought for her, — how a strange fatality had brought them in 
contact, neither knowing how near an interest each had in 
the other. She knew it the day she fainted in his room, but 
he died without knowing it, and so dying left her, as I told 
her I felt she was, a legacy to me. She softened then. 
Geoffrey, and she came with me." 

Here Annie paused, as if expecting he would speak, but 
he did not. She glanced at him, but his face was set and 
rigid, and his eyes were fixed upon the walk, where the 
nurse and child still were. 

" She is very ill, Geoffrey," Annie went on ; "very weak 
and worn, and weary of life. I am constantly with her, but 
sometimes she is unable or unwilling to speak to me. She 
is gloomy and reserved, and suffers as much in mind as in 
body, I am sure." 

Geoffrey said slowly, " Does she ever speak to you of 
me?" 

Annie replied, " Not often. When she does, it is always 
with the greatest sorrow for your sorrow, and the deepest 
sense of the injury she has done you. I am going to her to- 
day, Geoffrey, and I should like to take to her an assurance 
of your forgiveness. May I tell Margaret that you forgive 
her?" 

He turned hastily, and said with a great gasp, " O Annie, 
tell her that I love her !" 

" I will tell her that," the girl said gently and sadly, and 
an expression of pain crossed her face. She thought of 
the love that had been wasted, and the life that had been 
blighted. 

" What is she going to do ?" asked Geoffrey ; " how is it 
to be in the future ?" This was a difficult question for 
Annie to answer : she knew well what lay in the future ; but 



366 Land at Last. 

she dreaded to tell Geoffrey, even while she felt that the 
wisest, the easiest, the best, and the most merciful solution 
of the terrible dilemma in which a woman's ungoverned 
passion had placed so many innocent persons was surely and 
not slowly approaching. 

"I don't know, Geoffrey," she said; "I cannot tell you. 
Nothing can be decided upon until she is better, and you 
are well enough to advise and direct us. Try and rest 
satisfied for the present. She is safe, no harm can come to 
her ; and I am able and willing to befriend her now as 
you did before. Take comfort, Geoffrey ; it is all dreadful ; 
out if we had not found her, how much worse it would 
lave been !" 

At this moment the nurse carried her charge out of their 
sight, as she came towards the house, and Annie, thinking 
of the more than motherless child, wondered at the no- 
meaning of her own words, and how any thing could have 
been worse than what had occurred. 

She and Geoffrey had spoken very calmly to each other, 
and there had been no demonstration of gratitude to her on 
his part ; but it would be impossible to tell the thankfulness 
which filled his heart. It was a feeling of respite which 
possessed him. The dreadful misfortune which had fallen 
upon him was as real and as great as ever ; but he could 
rest from the thought of it, from its constant torture, now 
that he knew that she was safe from actual physical harm ; 
now that no awful vision of a repetition of the destitution 
and misery from which he had once rescued her, could come 
to appal him. Like a man who, knowing that the morrow 
will bring him a laborious task to do, straining his powers to 
the utmost, inexorable and inevitable in its claims, covets the 
deep rest of the hours which intervene between the present 
and the hour which must summon him to his toil, Geoffrey, 
in the lassitude of recent illness, in the weakness of early 
convalescence, rested from the contemplation of his misery. 
He had taken Annie's communication very quietly ; he had 
a sort of feeling that it ought to surprise him very much, that 
the circumstances were extraordinary, that the chain of 
events was a strangely- wrought one — but he felt little sur- 
prise ; it was lurking somewhere in his mind, he would feel 
it all by and by, no doubt ; but nothing beyond relief was 
very evident to him in his present state. He wondered, 



In the Deep Shadow. 367 

indeed, how it was with Annie herself; how the brave, 
devoted, and unselfish girl had been able, trammelled as she 
was by the rules and restrictions of a great house, to carry 
out her benevolent designs, and dispose of her own time 
after her own fashion. There was another part of the subject 
which Geoffrey did not approach even in his thoughts. 
Bowker had not told him of" Margaret's entreaties that she 
might see Lionel Brakespere ; he had not told him that the 
young man had returned to his father's house ; and he made 
no reference to him in his consideration of Annie's position. 
He had no notion that the circumstances in which Lord 
Caterham had entreated his protection for Annie had already 
arisen. 

" How is it that you can do all this unquestioned, 
Annie?" he asked; "how can you be so much away from 
home?" 

She answered him with some embarrassment. " It was 
difficult— a little — but I knew I was right, and I did not 
suffer interference. When you are quite well, Geoffrey, I 
want your advice for myself. I have none else, you know, 
since Arthur died." 

" He knew that, Annie ; and the purport of the letter 
which told me such a terrible story was to ask me in all 
things to protect and guide you. He little knew that he had 
the most effectual safeguard in his own hands ; for, Annie, 
the danger he most dreaded for you was association with his 
brother." 

" That can never be," she said vehemently. " No matter 
what your future course of action may be, Geoffrey, whether 
you expose him or not — in which, of course, you will consider 
Margaret only — I will never live under the same roof with 
him. I must find another home, Geoffrey, let what will 
come of it, and let them say what they will." 

" Caterham would have been much easier in his mind, 
Annie," said Geoffrey, with a sad smile, " if he had known 
how baseless were his fears that his brother would one day 
win your heart." 

"There never could have been any danger of that, 
Geoffrey," said Annie, with a crimson blush, which had not 
subsided when she took her leave of him. 



368 Land at Last. 

CHAPTER IX. 

CLOSING IN. 

THE porter at Lord Beauport's mansion in St. Barnabas 
Square became so familiarised with Mr. Bowker's 
frequent visits as at length to express no surprise at the sight 
of the " hold cove," who daily arrived to inquire whether any 
tidings of Lord Caterham had been received. Although the 
porter's experience of life had been confined to London, his 
knowledge of the ways of men was great ; and he was per- 
fectly certain that this pertinacious inquirer was no dun, no 
tradesman with an overdue account, no begging letter-writer 
or imposter of any kind. What he was the porter could not 
tell ; mentioned, in casual chat with the footman waiting for 
the carriage to come round, that he could not "put a nune" 
to him, but thought from his " rum get-up " that he was 
either in the picture-selling or the money-lending line. 

" Undeterred by, because ignorant of, the curiosity which 
his presence excited — and indeed it may be assumed that, 
had he been aware of it, his actions would have been very 
little influenced thereby — old William Bowker attended 
regularly every day at the St. Barnabas-Square mansion, and 
having asked his question and received his answer, adjourned 
to the nearest tavern for his lunch of bread-and-cheese and 
beer, and then puffing a big meerschaum pipe, scaled the 
omnibus which conveyed him to London Bridge, whence 
he took the train for the little house at Sydenham. They 
were always glad to see him there, even though he brought 
no news ; and old Mrs. Ludlow especially found the greatest 
comfort in pouring into his open ears the details of the 
latest experience of her "cross." William Bowker to such 
recitals was a splendid listener ; that is to say, he could nod 
his head and throw in an " Indeed !" or a "Really !" exactly 
at the proper moment, while all the time his thoughts were 
far away, occupied with some important matter. He saw 
Til occasionally, and sometimes had flying snatches of talk 
with Annie Maurice in the intervals of her attendance on 
the invalid. Bowker did not meet Charley Potts very 
frequently, although that gentleman was a regular visitor at 



Closing in. 369 

Sydenham whenever Mrs. Ludlow and Til were there ; but 
it was not until the evening that Mr. Potts came, for he was 
diligently working away at his commissions and growing into 
great favour with Mr. Caniche ; and besides, he had no 
particular interest in Miss Maurice ; and so long as he 
arrived in time to escort Miss Til and her mother back 
to London Bridge and to put them into the Lowbar omnibus, 
he was content, and was especially grateful for the refresh- 
ing sleep which always came upon old Mrs. Ludlow in the 
train. 

At length, when many weary days had worn themselves 
away, and Geoffrey was beginning to feel his old strength 
returning to him, and with it the aching void which he had 
experienced on regaining consciousness daily increasing in 
intensity, and when Margaret's hold on life had grown very 
weak indeed, old William Bowker, making his daily inquiry 
of Lord Beauport's porter, was informed that Lord Caterham 
had returned the previous afternoon, and was at that moment 
at breakfast. Then, with great deliberation, Mr. Bowker 
unbuttoned his coat and from an inner breast-pocket pro- 
duced an old leather pocket-book, from which, among bits 
of sketches and old envelopes, he took a card, and pencilling 
his name thereon, requested the porter to give it to Lord 
Caterham. 

The porter looked at the card, and then said jocosely, 
" You ain't wrote your business on it, then ? 'Spose you 
couldn't do that, eh ? Well, you are a plucked 'un, you are, 
and I like you for it, never givin' in and comin' so reg'lar ; 
and I'll let him have your card just for that reason. He 
disappeared as he said these words, but came back speedily, 
lemarking, "He'll see you, he says, though he don't know 
the name. Do you know the way ? Same rooms which his 
brother used to have, — straight afore you. Here, I'll show 
you." 

The friendly porter, preceding Mr. Bowker down the 
passage, opened the door of what had been poor Arthur's 
sitting-room, and ushered in the visitor. The bookcases, the 
desk, the pictures and nicnacks, were all as they had been 
in the old days ; but there was a table in the middle of the 
room, at which was seated the new Lord Caterham finishing 
his late breakfast. Bowker had never seen the Lionel 
Brakespere of former days ; if he had, he would have noticed 



37o Land at Last. 

the change in the man before him, — the boldness of bearing 
the calm unflinching regard, the steadiness of voice, th( 
assurance of manner, — all of which, though characteristic o 
Lionel Brakespere in his earliest days, had deserted him 
only to reappear with his title. 

"You wished to see me, Mr. . I don't know you: 

name," said Lionel, stiffly returning the stiff bow whicl 
Bowker gave him on entering. 

" You have my card, my lord," said old Bowker quietly. 

"Ah, yes, by the way, I have your card," said Lionel 
taking it up, " Mr. Bowker — Mr. — Bowker ! Now tha 
does not convey to me any idea whatever?" 

" I daresay not. You never heard it before — you neve 
saw me before ; and you would not see me now, if I did no 
come on business of the greatest importance." 

" Business of the greatest importance ! Dear me, that': 
what they all come on. Of the greatest importance to your 
self, of course?" 

" Of the greatest importance to you. Except in a ver 
minor degree, I've nothing to do in the matter." 

"Of the greatest importance to me ! O, of course — els< 
it would not have been worth while your coming, would it . 
Now, as my time is valuable, be good enough to let m< 
know what this business is." 

" You shall know in as few words as I can tell you. I com* 
to you from a woman — " 

Lionel interrupted him with a cynical laugh. 

" The deuce you do !" he said. "From a woman? Well 
I thought it was cigars, or a blue diamond, or a portrait o 
some old swell whom you had made out to be an ancestor o 
mine, or — " 

" I woftld advise you not to be funny on the subjec 
until you've heard it explained, Lord Caterham," said Mr 
Bowker grimly. " I scarcely imagine you'll find it sc 
humorous before I'm done." 

" Sha'n't I ? Well, at all events, give me the chance o 
hearing," said Lionel. He was in a splendid temper. H< 
had come back, after a pleasant run with Algy Barford, tc 
enjoy all the advantages of his new position. On the previou 
night he and his mother had had a long talk about Mis; 
Maurice — this heiress whom he was to captivate so easily 
The world lay straight and bright before him, and he coulc 



Closing in. 371 

spare a few minutes to this old fellow — who was cither a 
lunatic or a swindler — for his own amusement. 

" I come to you, Lord Caterham, from a woman who 
claims to be your wife." 

In an instant the colour died out of Lionel's face ; his 
brows were knit, and his mouth set and rigid. " O, ho ! " 
said he through his clenched teeth, after a moment's pause t 
"you do, do you? You come to me from that woman? 
That's your line of country, is it ? O yes — I guessed wrong 
about you, certainly — you don't look a bit like a bully !" 

'• A bully !" echoed William Bowker, looking very white. 

"A bully !" repeated Lionel — "the woman's father, brother, 
former husband — any thing that will give you a claim to put 
in an appearance for her. And now look here. This game 
won't do with me — I'm up to it ; so you had better drop it 
at once, and get out." 

Old Bowker waited for a minute with set teeth and 
clenched fists, all the gray hair round his mouth bristling 
with fury. Only for a minute. Then he resumed the seat 
which he had quitted, and said, 

" I'm not quite so certain of myself nowadays, as I've 
been a long time out of practice ; but it strikes me that 
during your long career of gentlemanly vice, my Lord Cater- 
ham, you never were nearer getting a sound drubbing than 
you have been within the last five minutes. However, let 
that pass. You have been good enough to accuse me ci 
being a bully, by which term I imagine you mean a man 
sent here by. the unfortunate lady of whom we have spoken 
to assert her rights. I may as well start by telling you 
that she is utterly ignorant of my intention to call on you." 

" Of course ; — O yes, of course. Didn't give you my 
address, did she?" 

"She did not." 

" She didn't ? O, then you've come on your own hook, 
being some relation or friend of hers, to see what you could 
bounce me out of." 

" I am no relation of hers. I have not seen her half a 
dozen times in the course of my life." 

" Then what the deuce brings,you here ?" 

" I'll tell you as shortly as I can. When you deserted 
this woman — not caring what became of her; leaving her to 
sink or swim as best she might — she slipped from one point 

2 b 3 



37 2 Land at Last. 

of wretchedness to another, until, at the bottom of her 
descent, she was discovered by a very old friend of mine 
perishing of cold and hunger — dying in the streets !" 

Lionel, whose face when Bowker commenced speaking 
had been averted, turned here, and gave a short sharp 
shudder, fixing his eyes on Bowker as he proceeded. 

" Dying in the streets ! My friend rescued her from this 
fate, had her nursed and attended, and finally — ignorant 
of the chief fact of her life, though she had confided to him 
a certain portion of her story — fell so desperately in love 
with her as to ask her to become his wife." 

"To become his wife!" cried Lionel; "and she con- 
sented ?" 
" She did." 

" And they were married ?" 
" They were. I was present." 

" Bravissimo /" said Lionel in a low voice. "You've 
done me a greater service than you think for, Mr. — what's- 
your-name. She'll never trouble me again." 

" Only once more, my lord," said old Bowker solemnly. 
" What the devil do you mean, sir?" 
" Simply this, my lord. I understand your exclamation 
of delight at seeing your way legally to rid yourself of this 
woman, who is now nothing to you but an incumbrance. 
But you need not fear ; you will not even have the trouble 
of consulting your lawyer in the matter. There is one who 
breaks up marriage-ties more effectually even than the 
Divorce Court, and that one is — Death !" 
"Death!" 

" Death. The woman of whom we have been speaking 
lies in the jaws of death. Her recovery, according to all 
human experience, is impossible. Dying, — and knowing 
herself to be dying,. — she wishes to see you." 

"To see me!" said Lionel scornfully; "O no, thank 
you ; I won't interfere in the family party. The gentleman 
who has married her might object to my coming." 

" The gentleman who married her in all noble trust and 
honour, she deserted directly she heard of your return. 
Overwhelmed by her cruelty, and by the full details of 
her story, which he heard from your brother, the then 

awlf terh \ m \ a f the same time > h e fell, smitten with an 
illness from which he is barely recovering, 'she is in another 



Closing in. 373 

house far away from his, and on her death-bed she calls 
for you." 

" She may call," said Lionel, after a moment's pause, 
frowning, thrusting his hands into his pockets, and set- 
tling himself back into his chair ; " she may call ; I shall 
not go." 

"You will not?" 

" I will not — why should I ?" 

" If you can't answer that question for yourself, Lord 
Caterham, upon my soul I can't for you," said Bowker 
gruffly. " If you think you owe no reparation to the woman, 
your wife, whom you left to be rescued by strangers' charity 
from starvation, I cannot convince you of it: if you decline 
to accede to her dying request, I cannot enforce it." 

" Why does not the — the gentleman who was so des- 
perately in love with her, and whom she — she accepted — 
why does not he go to her ?" said Lionel. He did not care 
for Margaret himself, but the thought that she had been 
something to any one else grated upon his pride. 

"Ah, my God," said old Bowker, "how willingly would 
he; but it is not for him she asks — it is for you. You 
boast of your experience of women, and yet you know 
so little of them as to expect gratitude of them. Gratitude 
from a woman — gratitude — and yet, God knows, I ought 
not to say that — I ought not to say that." 

" You seem to have had a singular experience, Mr. 
Bowker," said Lionel, "and one on which you can scarcely 
make up your mind. Where is this lady whom you wish 
me to see ?" 

"At Sydenham — within an hour's drive." 

Lionel rang the bell. " Tell them to get the brougham 
round," said he to the servant who answered it. Now, look 
here, Mr. Bowker ; I am going with you thoroughly de- 
pending on your having told me the exact truth." 

" You may depend on it," said old Bowker simply. And 
they started together. 

That was a strange ride. At starting Lionel lit a cigar, 
and puffed fiercely out of the window ; idly looking at the 
Parliament-houses and other familiar objects which met his 
gaze as they drove over Westminster Bridge, the passing 
populace, the hoardings blazing with placards, the ordinary 



374 Land at Last. 

bustle and turmoil of cvery-day life. He was angry and 
savage ; savage with Margaret for the annoyance she had 
brought upon hirn, savage with Bowker for having found 
him out, savage with himself for having allowed himself, 
in the impulse of a moment, to be betrayed into this expedi- 
tion. Then, as the houses became fewer, and the open 
spaces more frequent ; as they left behind them the solid 
blocks of streets and rows and terraces, dull wretched 
habitations for ninth-rate clerks, solemn old two-storied 
edifices where the shipping agents and Baltic merchants 
of a past generation yet lingered in their retirement, frowsy 
dirty little shops with a plentiful sprinkling of dirtier and 
frowsier taverns, imbued as was the whole neighbourhood 
with a not-to-be explained maritime flavour, — as they slipped 
by these and came into the broad road fringed by pretty 
gardens, in which stood trim villas stuccoed and plate- 
glassed, with the " coach-house of gentility " and every other 
sign of ease and wealth ; then leaving these behind, emerged 
into country lanes with wide-spreading meadows on either 
side, green uplands, swelling valleys, brown shorn fields 
whence the harvest had been carried, — as they passed 
through all these the cruel thoughts in Lionel's mind soft- 
ened, and he began to think of the scene to which he was 
being hastened, and of his own share in bringing about 
that scene. As he flung away the butt-end of his cigar, 
there rose in his mind a vision of Margaret as he had first 
seen her, walking on the Castle Hill at Tenby with some of 
her young companions, and looking over the low parapet 
at the boiling sea raging round Catherine's Rock. How 
lovely she looked, glowing with youth and health ! What 
a perfectly aristocratic air and tournure she had, visible 
in the careless grace of her hat, the sweeping elegance 
of her shawl, the fit of her boots and gloves ! How com- 
pletely he had been taken aback by the apparition ! hoAV 
he had raved about her ! had never rested until he had 
obtained an introduction, and — ah, he remembered at that 
moment distinctly the quivering of her eyelids, the fluttering 
of her young bosom under its simple gauze, her half hesi- 
tating timid speech. That was comparatively a short time 
ago — and now in what condition was he to find her ? He 
was not all bad, this man — who is ? — and the best part 



Closing in. 375 

of him was awakened now. He crossed his r.rms, leaned 
back in the carriage, and was nearer repentance than he 
had been since his childhood. 

And old William Bowker, what was he thinking of? 
Indeed, he had fallen into his usual day-dream. The com- 
parison between Margaret and his own lost love, made 
when he first saw her, had always haunted him ; and he 
was then turning in his mind how, if such a complication 
as they were experiencing at that moment had been possible, 
it would have affected her and him. From this his thoughts 
glided to the impending interview, and he wondered whether 
he had done right in bringing it about. He doubted 
whether Margaret would have the physical strength to 
endure it; and even if she had, whether any good — even 
so far as the arousing even a transient good in his compa- 
nion — would result from it. As he was pondering upon 
these things, Lionel turned quietly upon him and said in a 
hoarse voice, 

" You said she was very ill ?" 

" Very ill ; could hardly be worse — to be alive." 

" It's—" and here he seemed to pull himself together, 
and nerve himself to hear the worst — " it's consumption, 
I suppose, caught from — damn it all, how my lip trembles ! 
— brought on by — want, and that." 

" It originated in rheumatic fever, produced by cold and 
exposure, resulting in heart-disease and a complication of 
disorders." 

"Has she had proper advice? — the best, I mean, that 
can be procured?" 

" Yes ; she has been seen twice by and " said 

Bowker, naming two celebrated physicians, "and her own 
doctor sees her every day." 

"And their opinions agree?" 

" They all agree in saying that — " 

" Hush," said Lionel, seizing him by the arm ; " your 
face is quite enough. I'd rather not hear it again, please." 
And he plunged his hands into his pockets, and sunk back 
shuddering into the corner of the brougham. 

Bowker was silent ; and they drove on without inter- 
changing a word until William stopped the coachman at a 
small gate in a high garden-wall. Then Lionel looked up with 
a strange frightened glance, and asked, " Is this the place ?" 



376 Land at Last. 

" It is," said Bowker ; " she has been here for some little 
time now. You had better let me go in first, I think, and 
prepare for your coming." 

And all Lionel answered was, "As you please," as he- 
shrunk back into his corner again. He was under a totally 
new experience. For the first time in his life he found 
himself suffering under a conscience-pang ; felt disposed 
to allow that he had acted badly towards this woman now 
lying so stricken and so helpless ; had a kind of dim hope 
that she would recover, in order that he might — vaguely, he 
knew not how — make her atonement. He felt uncomfort- 
able and fidgetty. Bowker had gone, and the sun-blistered 
damp-stained garden-door had been closed behind him, and 
Lionel sat gazing at the door, and wondering what was on 
the other side of it, and what kind of a house it was, and 
where she was, and who was with her. He never thought 
he should have felt like this. He had thought of her — half 
a dozen times — when he was out there ; but he knew she 
was a clever girl, and he always had a notion that she would 
fall upon her legs, and outgrow that first girlish smite, and 
settle down comfortably, and all that kind of thing. And 
so she would now. They were probably a pack of nervous 
old women about her— like this fellow who had brought 
him here — and they exaggerated danger, and made moun- 
tains of mole-hills. She was ill — he had little doubt of 
that; but she would get better, and then he'd see what 
could be done. Gad ! it was a wonderful thing to find 
any woman caring for a fellow so ; he might go through 
life without meeting another ; and after all, what the deuce 
did it matter ? He was his own master, wasn't he ? and 
as for money — well, he should be sure to have plenty some 
day : things were all altered now, since poor old Arthur's 
death ; and— And at that moment the door opened ; and 
behind William Bowker, who was pale and very grave, 
Lionel saw the house with all its blinds drawn down. And 
then he knew that his better resolutions had come too late, 
and that Margaret was dead. 

Yes, she was dead ; had died early that morning. On 
the previous day she had been more than usually restless 
and uncomfortable, and towards evening had alarmed the 
nurse — who thought she was asleep, and who herself was 



Closing in. 377 

dozing- — by breaking out into a shrill cry, followed by a 
deep long-drawn lamentation. Annie Maurice at the sound 
rushed hastily into the room, and never left it again until all 
was over. She found Margaret dreadfully excited. She 
had had a horrible dream, she said— a dream in which 
she went through all the miseries of her days of penury 
and starvation, with the added horror of feeling that they 
were a just punishment on her for her ingratitude to Geoffrey 
Ludlow. When she was a little quieted, she motioned 
Annie to sit by her ; and holding her hand, asked her news 
of Geoffrey. Annie started, for this was the first time that, 
in her calm senses, Margaret had mentioned him. In her 
long ravings of delirium his name was constantly on her 
lips, always coupled with some terms of pity and self- 
scornful compassion ; but hitherto, during her brief intervals 
of reason, she had talked only of Lionel, and of her earnest 
desire to see and speak to him once again. So Annie, 
pleased and astonished, said, 

" He is getting better, Margaret ; much better, we trust." 

" Getting better ! Has he been ill, then ?" 

" He has been very ill — so ill that we at one time feared 
for his life. But he is out of danger now, thank God." 

" Thank God !" repeated Margaret. " I am grateful 
indeed that his death is not to be charged to my account ; 
.hat would have been but a bad return for his preservation 
of my life ; and if he had died, I know his death would have 
been occasioned by my wickedness. Tell me, Miss Maurice 
— Annie — tell me, has he ever mentioned my name ?" 

"Ah, Margaret," said Annie, her eyes filling with tears, 
" his talk is only of you." 

" Is it?" said Margaret, with flushing cheeks and brighten- 
ing eyes ; " is it ? That's good to hear — O how good ! And 
tell me, Annie — he knows I shall not trouble him long — has 
he, has he forgiven me ?" 

"Not that alone," said Annie quietly. " Only yesterday 
he said, with tears in his eyes, how he loved you still." 

There was silence for a moment, as Margaret covered her 
eyes with her hands. Then, raising her head, in a voice 
choked with sobs she said, with a blinding rush of tears, 
" O Annie, Annie, I can't be all bad, or I should never 
h.ive won the love of that brave, true-hearted man." 

She spoke but little after this ; and Lionel's name never 



378 Land at Last. 

passed her lips — she seemed to have forgotten all about him 
and her desire to see him. From time to time she men- 
tioned Geoffrey — no longer, as in her delirium, with pity, 
but with a kind of reverential fondness, as one speaks of the 
dead. As the night deepened, she became restless again, 
tossing to and fro, and muttering to herself; and bending 
down, Annie heard her, as she had often heard her before, 
engaged in deep and fervent prayer. Then she slept ; and, 
worn out with watching, Annie slept also. 

It was about four o'clock in the morning when Annie felt 
her arm touched; and at once unclosing her eyes, saw 
Margaret striving to raise herself on her elbow. There was 
a bright weird look in her face that was unmistakable. 

"It's coming, Annie," she said, in short thick gasps; 
"it's coming, dear — the rest, the peace, the home ! I don't 
fear it, Annie. I've — I've had that one line running in my 
brain, ' What though my lamp was lighted late, there's One 
will let me in.' I trust in His mercy, Annie, who pardoned 
Magdalen ; and— God bless you, dear ; God in His goodness 
reward you for all your love and care of me ; and say to 
Geoffrey that I blessed him too, and that I thanked him for 
all his — your hand, Annie — so bless you both ! — lighted late, 
there's One will—" 

And the wanderer was at rest. 



CHAPTER X. 



AFTER THE WRECK. 



THEY looked to Bowker to break the news to Geoffrey; 
at least so Charley Potts said, after a hurried con- 
ference with Til and her mother, at which Annie Maurice, 
overwhelmed by the reaction from excessive excitement, 
had not been present. They looked to Bowker to perform 
this sad duty — to tell Geoffrey Ludlow that the prize which 
had been so long in coming, and which he had held in his 
arms for so short a time, was snatched from him for ever. 
" For ever," said old William : " that's it. He bore up 
wonderfully, so long as he thought there was any chance 
of seeing her again. He hoped against hope, and strove 



After the Wreck. 379 

against what he knew to be right and just, and would have 
made any sacrifice — ay, to the extent of bowing his head to 
his own shame, and taking her back to his home and his 
heart. If she had recovered ; and even if she would have 
shown herself willing to come back — which she never would 
— I could have faced Geoff, and told him what his duty 
was, and fought it out with him to the last. It would have 
rather done me good, such a turn as that ; but I can't bear 
this job ; — I can't bear to see my old friend, to have to tell 
him that it's all over, that the light of his life has died out, 
that — Upon my soul," said old William energetically, 
" I think they might have got some one else to do this. 
And yet I don't know," said he, after a moment's pause : 
" the women couldn't be expected to do. it. As for Charley, 
he'd have bungled it, safe. No, I'll go and do it myself ; 
but I'll wait till to-morrow, I think : there's no good adding 
another day's anguish to the dear fellow's life." 

This was on the second day after Margaret's death, and 
Bowker yet postponed the execution of his task. On the 
third day, however, he set out for Elm Lodge, and found 
Geoffrey in the dining-room. The servant who admitted Mr. 
Bowker said, in reply to his inquiry, that "master was better 
certainly, but poor and peaky ; did not take much notice of 
what went on, and were quite off his food." Geoffrey's 
looks certainly bore out the handmaiden's account. His 
cheeks were thin and hollow ; there were great circles round 
his eyes ; his flesh was tight and yellow ; his hands so 
fallen away that they looked like mere anatomical prepara- 
tions. He looked up as Bowker entered, and the ghost of 
his old smile hovered round his lips. 

" So you've come at last, William, after failing in your 
troth these three days, eh ?" said he. " What kept you, old 
friend?" 

Bowker was not prepared for any questions. He had 
gone through all this scene in his mind more than once ; 
but in his rehearsal it was always he who commenced the 
subject; and this order not being followed, he was rather 
taken aback. 

" I have been particularly engaged," he said. " You 
know, Geoff, that I should not have missed coming to you 
otherwise ; but — it was impossible." 

"Was it?" said Geoffrey, raising his head quietly, and 



go Land at Last. 

stedfastly regarding him with his bright eyes ; " was it on my 
business that you were engaged ?" 

'" It was," said Bowker. He knew at that moment that 
his friend had guessed the truth. 

" Then," said Geoffrey, " Margaret is dead !" He said it 
without altering the inflection of his voice, without removing 
his eyes from his friend's face. Scarcely inquiringly he said 
it, apparently convinced of the fact ; and he took Bowker's 
silence for an affirmative, and rose and walked towards the 
window, supporting himself by the wall as he went. Bowker 
left him there by himself for a few minutes, and then, going 
up to him and laying his hand affectionately on his shoulder, 
said, "Geoff!" 

Geoff's head was averted, but his hand sought Bowker's, 
and pressed it warmly. 

" Geoff, dear old Geoff, — my old friend of many happy 
years, — you must bear up in this hour of trial. Think of it, 
dear old fellow. God knows, I'm one of the worst in the 
world to preach content and submission, and all that ; but 
think of it : it is the — you know I wouldn't hurt your feelings 
Geoff — the best thing that, under all the circumstances, 
could have occurred." 

" I've lost her, William— lost her whom I loved better than 
my heart's blood, whom I so prized and cherished and 
worshipped' — lost her for ever — ah, my God, for ever!" 
And the strong man writhed in his agony, and burying his 
head in his arms, burst into tears. 

"But, Geoff," said old Bowker, with a great gulp, "you 
could never have been any thing to her again; you have 
nothing to reproach yourself with in your conduct to her. 
It was'her misfortune, poor soul, that she did not value you 
as she should have done ; and yet before she died she 
spoke very, very affectionately of you, and your name was 
the last on her lips." 

" Tell me about that, William," said Geoffrey, raising his 
head; "tell me what she said about me." He was com- 
paratively calm even then, and sat quite quietly to listen to 
the details which Bowker had heard from Annie Maurice, 
and which he now poured into Geoff's eager ears. When 
easier,^ 1 Cd ' Ge ,° ff thank ed him, and said he felt much 

P^rClw°£ reheV ?- d i han he had b <^n for some days 
f , but that he was tired out, and would ask Bowker to 



After the Wreck. 381 

excuse him then, and by all means to come the next day. 
Honest AVilliam, glad to have accomplished his mission 
under such apparently favourable circumstances, and with 
so little of a " scene," took his leave. 

But the next day, when he arrived at Elm Lodge, he 
found Dr. Brandram's gig at the gate, and on entering the 
house was met by Dr. Brandram himself in the hall. " And 
a very fortunate man I esteem myself in meeting you, my 
dear Mr. Boucher — beg pardon, Bowker ! Boucher — name 
of old friend of mine in Norfolk — very fortunate indeed. 
Let's step into the dining-room, eh ? — no need to stand in 
the draught, eh? You see I speak without the least pro- 
fessional feeling — ha, ha." And the little doctor laughed, 
but very softly. " Now look here, my dear sir," he continued; 
" our friend upstairs — I advised his remaining upstairs to- 
day — this won't do, my dear sir — this won't do." 

" I know it, doctor, almost as well as you," said old 
William gruffly ; " but what I don't know, and what I suppose 
you do, is — what will?" 

" Change, my dear sir — thorough and entire change ; not 
merely of air and scene, but of thought, life, habits, sur- 
roundings. He has a splendid constitution, our friend ; but 
if he remains much longer in this cage, from which all the — 
all the joys have flown — he'll beat himself to death against 
the bars." This was a favourite simile with Dr. Brandram ; 
and after he had uttered it he leant back, as was his wont, 
and balanced himself on his heels, and looked up into the 
eyes of his interlocutor to see its effect. On this occasion 
he was not much gratified, for old Bowker had not troubled 
himself about the poetical setting, but was thinking over the 
sense of the doctor's remark. 

" Change," he repeated, " thorough change j have you told 
him that yourself, doctor ?" 

" Fifty times, my dear sir ; repeated it with all the weight 
of medical authority." 

"And what does he say?" 

"Always the same thing — that his duty keeps him here. 
He's an extraordinary man, our friend, a most estimable man," 
but it would be an excellent thing for him, — in fact, make all 
the difference in the length of his life, — if his duty would 
take him abroad for six months." 

" It shall," said old Bowker, putting on his hat, and driving 



382 Land at Last. 

it down hard down on his head. " Leave that to me. I'll 
take care of that." And with these words he nodded at the 
doctor and departed, leaving the little medico more asto- 
nished at the " odd ways " of artists than ever. 

When Mr. Bowker had once made up his mind to carry- 
any thing out, he never rested until it was achieved ; so that 
on quitting Elm Lodge he at once made his way to Mr. 
Stompff's " gallery of modern masters," which he entered, 
greatly to the surprise of the proprietor, who was hovering 
about the room like a great spider on the watch for flies. 
There had never been any thing like cordiality between the 
great entrepreneur and the rough old artist ; and the former 
opened his eyes to their widest extent, and pulled his 
whisker through his teeth, as he bowed somewhat sar- 
castically and said, " This is an honour and no flies ?" But 
before his visitor left, Mr. Stompff had occasion to rub his 
eyes very hard with a bright silk pocket-handkerchief, and 
to resort to a cupboard under the desk on which the cata- 
logues stood, whence he produced a tapering flask, from 
which he and Mr. Bowker refreshed themselves— his last 
words being, as Mr. Bowker took his departure, " You leave 
it to me, old fellow — you leave it to me." 

Carrying out apparently the arrangement herein entered 
upon, the next day the great Mr. Stompff's brougham stopped 
at Elm Lodge, and the great Mr. Stompff himself descended 
therefrom, exhibiting far less than his usual self-sufficiency, 
swagger, and noise. To the servant who opened the door 
in answer to his modest ring he gave a note which he had 
prepared ; and Geoffrey coming down into the dining-room 
found him waiting there, apparently deep in a photographic 
album. He rose, as the door opened, and caught Geoffrey 
warmly by the hand. 

" How are you, Ludlow? How are you, my dear fellow? 
It must have been pressing business that brought me here 
just now, worrying you when you're only just recovered 
from your illness, my boy ; pressing business, you may take 
your oath of that." And all the time Mr. Stompff held 
Geoffrey's hand between his own, and looked into his eyes 
with a wavering unsettled glance. 

"I'm better, thank you, Mr. Stompff, much better; so 
much better that I hope soon to be at work again," said 
Geoff nervously. 



Ajterthe Wreck. 383 

"That's right; that's the best hearing possible. Nothing 
like getting back to work to set a man straight and bring 
him to his bearings." 

" You were getting nervous about the ' Esplanade,' " said 
Geoff with a sickly smile — "as well indeed you might, for 
it's been a long time about. But you need not be frightened 
about that ; I've managed to finish it." 

"Have you?" said Stompff, very dry and husky in the 
throat. 

"Yes; if you'll step into the studio, I'll show it you." 
They went down the little steps which Margaret had 
traversed so oft ; and Geoffrey, as he pulled the big easel 
round into the light, said, " It's not quite what I wished. I 
— circumstances, you know, were against me — and but — it 
can be altered, you know; altered in any manner you 
wish." 

"Altered be — hanged !" cried Stompff, very nearly relaps- 
ing into the vernacular; "altered !" he repeated, gazing at it 
with delight; now approaching closely to the canvas, now 
stepping away and looking at it under the shade of his 
hand; "why, that's first chop, that is. You've done it up 
brown ! You've made reg'ler ten-strike, as the Yankees say. 
Altered ! I wouldn't have a brush laid upon that for a fifty- 
pun' note. By George, Ludlow, well or ill, you lick the lot 
in your own line. There's none of 'em can touch you, d'ye 
hear? Altered! — damme, it's splendid." 

"I'm very glad you like it," said Geoff wearily, "very 
glad ; more especially as it may be a long time before I 
paint again." 

"What's that you say?" said Mr. Stompff, turning upon 
him sharply. "What's that you say?" he repeated in a 
gentler tone, laying his hand softly upon Geoffrey Ludlow's 
shoulder — "a long time before you paint again? Why, 
nonsense, my good fellow; you don't know what nonsense 
you're talking." 

" No nonsense, Mr. Stompff, but plain, honest, simple 
fact. I seem to have lost all zest for my art ; my spirit is 
broken, and — " 

11 Of course, my good fellow; I understand all that well 
enough ; too much England, — that's what it is. Home of 
the free, and ruling the waves, and all that. Pickles ! 
Capital place to sell pictures; deuced bad place to paint 



384 Land at Last. 

'em. Now look here. You've been good enough to say 
more than once that I've been your friend, eh? Not that 
I've ever done more than give a good price for good work, 
though that's more than some people do — some people, eh? 
we know who — never mind. Now, I want you to do me a 
turn, and I am sure you will." 

Geoffrey bowed his head and said, " So long as you don't 
require a picture from me — " 

"Picture! O no; of course not. A steam engine, or a 
hansom cab, or a stilton cheese — that's what I look for from 
you naturally, isn't it? Ludlow, my dear fellow, how can 
you talk such stuff? Now listen. The British public, sir, 
has had a sickener of British subjects. Little Dab and his 
crew have pretty nearly used up all the sentimental 
domesticity; and we've had such a lot of fancy fairs, and 
Hyde Parks, and noble volunteers, and archery fetes, and 
gals playing at croky, that the B. P. won't stand it any 
longer. There'll be a reaction, you'll see ; and the 'Cademy 
will be choke full of Charles the Seconds, and Nell Gwynns, 
and coves in wigs, and women in powder and patches, and 
all that business, just because the modern every-day gaff has 
been done to death. I shall have to give in to this ; and I 
shall give in of course. There's lots of coves can do that 
trick for me well enough to sell. But I look for more from 
you ; — and this is what I propose. You go straight away 
out of this; where, I don't care — so long as you remain 
away a year or so, and keep your eyes about you. You'll 
work hard enough, — I don't fear that; and whatever you 
cc, send it home to me and I'll take it. Lor' bless you, 
ihere's rigs that the B. P. knows nothing about, and that 
would make stunnin' subjects for you — a table-cPhote on 
the Rhine, a students' kneipe at Heidelberg, a schiitzenfest 
in Switzerland ; and then you've never been to Italy yet, 
and though that game's been worked pretty often, yet 
any thing Italian from you would sell like mad." He 
paused for a moment and looked up at Geoffrey, whose 
eyes were fixed intently on him, and who seemed eager and 
excited. 

" It's all one to me," said he ; "I scarcely know what to 
say ; it's very kind of you. I know you mean it well ; but 
do you think I can do it? Do you really think so?" 

" Think so ! I know so," said Mr. Stompff. " See here i 



After the Wreck. 385 

I never take up a thing of this sort without carrying it 
through. We said five hundred for the ' Esplanade,' didn't 
we ? You've had three on account — that's right ! Now 
here's the other two ; and if you're as well pleased with 
the bargain as me, no knife shall cut our love in two, as the 
song says. Now you must leave this money behind for 
the old lady and the little 'un, and that nice sister of yours 
— O yes, by the way, what makes Charley Potts paint her 
head in all his pictures, and why don't he sell to me instead 
of Caniche? — and here's a hundred in circular notes. I 
went round to my bank and got 'em this morning on purpose 
for you to go abroad with. When they're done, you know 
where to send for some more." 

" You are very kind, Mr. Stompff, but — " 

"No, I ain't. I'm a man of business, I am; and there 
ain't many as is very fond of me. But I know what the 
B. P. wants, and I know a good fellow when I see one ; and 
when I do see one, I don't often let him slide. I ain't a 
polished sort of cove," said Mr. Stompff reflectively ; " I 
leave that to Caniche, with his paw-paw bowins and scrapins; 
but I ain't quite so black as some of the artists paint me. 
However, this is a matter of business that I'm rather eager 
about ; and I should be glad to know if I may look upon it 
as settled." 

" Look here, Mr. Stompff," said Geoffrey Ludlow, turning 
to his companion, and speaking in an earnest voice ; " you 
have behaved generously to me, and you deserve that I 
should speak frankly with you. I should immensely like to 
get away from this place for a while, to shake off the 
memory of all that has passed within the last few months — 
so far as it is possible for me to shake it off— to get into 
new scenes, and to receive fresh impressions. But I very 
much doubt whether I shall be able to undertake what you 
wish. I feel as if all the little power I ever had were gone ; 
as if my brain were as barren to conceive as I know my 
hand is impotent to execute ; I feel — " 

" I know," interrupted Mr. Stompff; " regularly sewed up ; 
feel as if you'd like somebody to unscrew your head, take 
your brains out and clean 'em, and then put 'em back ; feel 
as if you didn't care for the world, and would like to try the 
hermit dodge and eat roots and drink water, and cut society, 
eh ? Ah, I've felt like that sometimes ; and then I've heard 

2 c 



386 Land at Last. 

of some pictures that was comin' to the hammer, and I've 
just looked in at Christie's, and, Lord, as soon as I heard 
the lots a-goin' up, and felt myself reg'ler in the swing of 
competition, I've given up all them foolish notions, and 
gone home and enjoyed a roast fowl and a glass of sham 
and Mrs. S.'s comp'ny, like a Christian ! And so will you, 
Ludlow, my boy; you'll pull through, I'll pound it. You 
work just when you feel inclined, and draw upon me when 
you want the ready ; I'll stand the racket, never fear." 

The conspiracy between Mr. Stompff and old William 
Bowker had been carried out minutely in detail ; one of the 
points insisted on being that, the position once carried, 
Geoff should have no time for retreat. Accordingly, while 
Mr. Stompff was proceeding to Elm Lodge, Mr. Bowker 
was indoctrinating the ladies (whom he knew he should find 
at Sydenham) as to the tenour of their advice ; and scarcely 
had Mr. Stompff quitted Geoffrey when Mr. Bowker was 
announced. To his old friend, Geoffrey, now in a very 
excited state, told the whole story of Stompff's visit and of 
the proposition which he had made; and old William — 
whom no one would have given credit for possessing such 
control over his face — sat looking on with the greatest 
apparent interest. When Geoffrey came to an end of his 
narration, and asked his friend whether he had done right in 
partially acceding to what had been offered him, or whether 
— it was not too late — he should retract, Mr. Bowker was 
extremely vehement — more so than he had ever known 
himself to be — in insisting that it was the very best thing 
that could possibly have happened. When Mrs. Ludlow 
and Til returned, they unhesitatingly pronounced the same 
opinion ; and so Geoff's departure was decided on. 

He had a great deal to attend to before he could leave ; 
and the mere bustle and activity of business seemed to do 
him good at once. Mrs. Ludlow was thoroughly happy in 
preparing his clothes for his journey; Mr. Bowker and 
Charley Potts were constantly at Elm Lodge, the latter 
gentleman finding his assistance usually required by Miss 
Til ; and on the day before that fixed for Geoffrey's de- 
parture, Annie Maurice called to take farewell. It was an 
interview which had been dreaded by both of them, and 
was as brief as possible. Annie expressed her satisfaction 
at his having been persuaded to seek change, by which she 



Land at Last. 387 

was sure lie would benefit, and extended her hand in 
"good-bye." 

Geoff took her hand, and holding it tenderly in his, said : 
"Annie, some day I may be able — I am very far from 
being able now — to tell you how the knowledge of your 
kindness to — to one whom I have lost — has sustained me 
under my bitter sorrow. God bless you, my more than 
sister ! God bless you, my good angel 1 " And Geoffrey 
touched her forehead with his lips, and hurried from the 
room. 

The authorities at the South-Eastern terminus at London 
Bridge thought that some distinguished exile must be about 
returning to France that night, there were so many curiously- 
hatted and bearded gentlemen gathered round the mail-train. 
But they were only some of our old friends of the Titians 
come to say " God speed " to Geoffrey Ludlow, whose de- 
parture had been made known to them by Mr. Stompff. 
That worthy was there in great force, and old Bowker, and 
Charley Potts, and little Dabb, and old Tom Wrigley, and 
many others ; and as the train wound out of the station, 
bearing Geoff along with it, there were rising tears and 
swelling knots in eyes and throats that were very unused to 
such manifestations of weakness. 



CHAPTER XI. 



LAND AT LAST. 



THE calm had come after the storm ; the great, hurrying, 
thundering waves had stilled into silence, and lay 
quiet over the shattered wreck of home, and happiness, and 
hope. The winter rain had beaten upon the pretty house, 
and the light snow had fallen and lain a while, and had then 
melted away upon the garden ground and the smooth green 
turf, within the walls which had made a prison to the restless 
spirit of Margaret, even as the rain had beaten and the snow 
had fallen upon her grave in Norwood Cemetery. Now the 
spring odours were abroad in the air, and the trees were 
breaking into leaf, and Elm Lodge was looking the very 

2 c 2 



388 Land at Last. 

perfection of tranquillity, of well-ordered, tasteful comfort 
and domesticity ; an appearance in which there was all the 
sadness of a great contrast, a terrible retrospect, and an 
irremediable loss. Yet this appearance was not altogether 
deceptive; for within the house which had witnessed so 
much misery, peace and resignation now reigned. Mrs. 
Ludlow's unacknowledged desire was now realised ; she was 
the mistress of her son's house, of all the modest splendour 
which had come with poor Geoff's improved fortunes ; she 
ruled now where she had been subordinate before, and in 
the nursery, where at best she had only enjoyed toleration, 
she found herself supreme. To be sure, the great element 
of enjoyment, her son's presence, was wanting; but she 
knew that Geoffrey was doing the best thing in his power to 
do, was taking the most effectual means for the establish- 
ment of his health and the alleviation of his sorrow; and 
the old lady — on whom the supineness which comes with 
years, and which takes the edge off the sword of grief and 
the bitterness out of its cup, was beginning to steal — was 
satisfied. Much that had occurred was only imperfectly 
known to her ; and indeed she would have been unfitted, by 
the safe routine and happy inexperience of evil passions 
which had marked her own life, to understand the storm 
and conflict which had raged around her. That her son's 
beautiful wife had been utterly unworthy of him, and that 
she had deceived and left him, Mrs. Ludlow knew; but 
Margaret's death had come so soon to terminate the terrible 
and mysterious dilemma in which her conduct had placed 
them all, that it had imposed upon them the silence of 
compassion, and filled them with the sense of merciful 
relief; so that by mutual consent her name had 'not been 
mentioned in the house where she had been mistress for so 
long. Her son's illness, and the danger of losing him, had 
impressed Mrs. Ludlow much more vividly than his domestic 
calamity; and she had settled down with surprising ease and 
readiness to the routine of life at Elm Lodge. 

That routine included a good deal of the society of Mr. 
Charley Potts ; and as Mrs. Ludlow was almost as much 
attached to that warm-hearted and hot-headed gentleman as 
Miss Til herself, she acquiesced with perfect willingness in 
the- state of affairs which brought him to Elm Lodge with 
regularity equalled only by that of the postman. The 



Land at Last. 389 

household was a quiet one ; and the simple and unpretend- 
ing women who walked along the shady paths at Lowbar in 
their deep-mourning dresses, or played with the little child 
upon the lawn, furnished but scanty food for the curiosity of 
the neighbourhood. Popular feeling was indeed somewhat 
excited on the subject of Charley Potts ; but Dr. Brandram 
— a gallant gentleman in his way— set that matter at rest 
very quickly by announcing that Charley and Miss Ludlow 
were engaged, and were shortly to be married — information 
which was graciously received ; as indeed the most distant 
tidings of a prospective wedding always are received by 
small communities in which the female element predominates. 
Dr. Brandram had done Geoffrey good service too, by his 
half-made, half-withheld communications respecting the beau- 
tiful mistress of Elm Lodge, whose disappearance had been 
so sudden. She had not recovered her confinement so well 
as he had hoped : the nervous system had been greatly 
shaken. He had ordered change : a temporary removal 
from home was frequently of great benefit. Yes, there had 
been a terrible scene with Mr. Ludlow — that was quite true : 
the non-medical mind was hard to convince in these matters 
sometimes; and Mr. Ludlow had been hard to manage. 
But a quarrel between them ? — O dear no : quite a mistake. 
Mrs. Ludlow left home by herself? — O dear no : by her 
own consent, certainly. She perfectly comprehended the 
necessity of the change, and was ready to submit; while 
Ludlow could not be brought to see it — that was all. " I 
assure you, my dear madam," the doctor would say to each 
of his female catechists, " I never had a more interesting 
patient ; and I never pitied a man more than Ludlow when 
she sank so rapidly and unexpectedly. I really feared for 
his reason then, and of course I sent him away immediately. 
A little change, my dear madam, — a little change in these 
cases produces a wonderful effect — quite wonderful !" 

" But, doctor," the anxious inquirer would probably say, 
" Mr. Ludlow never saw her again after she was removed, 
did he?" 

" Well, indeed, my dear madam,— you see I am telling 
professional secrets ; but you are not like other women : 
you are sd far above any vulgar curiosity, and I know I may 
rely so entirely on your discretion, that I make an exception 
in your case, — they never did meet. You see these cases 



390 Land at Last, 

are so uncertain; and cerebral disease developes itself so 
rapidly, that before any favourable change took place, the 
patient sunk." 

" Dear me, how very sad ! It was at an asylum, I 
suppose?" 

"Well, my dear madam, it was under private care — under 
the very best circumstances, I assure you ; but — you'll 
excuse me ; this is entirely confidential. And now to return 
to your dear little boy." 

So did kind-hearted Dr. Brandram lend his aid to the 
laying of the ghost of scandal at Elm Lodge ; and gradually 
it became accepted that Mrs. Ludlow had died under the 
circumstances hinted at by Dr. Brandram. 

"It is rather a disadvantage to the dear child, Charley, 
I fear," sapiently remarked Miss Til to the docile Mr. Potts 
as he was attending her on a gardening expedition, holding 
a basket while she snipped and weeded, and looking as if 
pipes and beer had never crossed the path of his knowledge 
or the disc of his imagination ; " people will talk about his 
mother having died in a lunatic-asylum." 

"Suppose they do?" asked Charley in reply. "That 
sort of thing does not harm a man ; and " — here the honest 
fellow's face darkened and his voice fell — " it is better they 
should say that than the truth. I think that can always be 
hidden, Til. The poor woman's death has saved us all 
much ; but it has been the greatest boon to her child ; for 
now no one need ever know, and least of all the child 
himself, that he has no right to bear his father's name." 

" It is well Geoff is not a rich man, with a great estate to 
leave to an eldest son," said Til, pulling at an obstinate tuft 
of groundsel, and very anxious to prevent any suspicion that 
her lover's words had brought tears to her eyes. 

"Well," said Charley, with rather a gloomy smile, "I'm 
not so certain of that, Til : it's a matter of opinion ; but I'm 
clear that it's a good thing he's not a great man — in the 
' nob ' sense of the word I mean — and that the world can 
afford to let him alone. Here comes the young shaver — 
let's go and talk to him." And Charley, secretly pining to 
get rid of the basket, laid down that obnoxious burden, and 
went across the grass-plat towards the nurse, just then 
making her appearance from the house. 

" Charley is always right," said Til to herself as she eradi- 



Land at Last. 391 

cated the last obstinate weed in the flower-bed under inspec- 
tion, and rejoined Mr. Potts ; from which observation it is 
to be hoped that the fitness of Miss Til for undertaking that 
most solemn of human engagements — matrimony — will be 
fully recognised. There are women who practically apply 
to their husbands the injunctions of the Church Catechism, 
in which duty to God is defined ; who " believe in, fear, 
trust, and love " them " with all their hearts, with all their 
minds, with all their souls, and with all their strength ;" and 
Matilda Ludlow, though a remarkably sensible girl, and 
likely enough to estimate other people at their precise value, 
was rapidly being reduced to this state of mind about 
Charley, who was at all events much less unworthy than 
most male objects of female devoteeism. 

Mrs. Ludlow and her daughter heard pretty regularly from 
Geoff. Of course his letters were unsatisfactory ; men's 
letters always are, except they be love-letters, when their 
meaning is tempered by their exclusiveness. He was eager 
for news of the child ; but he never referred to the past in 
any other respect, and he said little in anticipation of the 
future. He described his travels, reported the state of his 
health, and expressed his anxiety for his mother's comfort ; 
and that was about the sum-total of these literary productions, 
which no doubt were highly penitential performances to 
poor Geoffrey. 

Spring was well advanced when Charley and Til began to 
discuss the propriety of naming a time for their marriage. 
The house at Brompton was still "on their hands," as Mrs. 
Ludlow was fond of saying, while in her secret heart she 
would have deeply regretted the turning-up of an eligible 
tenant ; for who could answer for the habits and manners of 
strangers, or tell what damage her sacred furniture might 
receive ? Charley proposed to Til that they should become 
her mother's tenants, and urged that young lady to consent 
to a speedy marriage, from the most laudable economic 
principles, on the ground that under present circumstances 
he was idling dreadfully, but that he confidently expected 
that marriage would " settle his mind." The recent date of 
the family calamity Charley could not be brought to regard 
as a reasonable obstacle to his wishes. 

"Look here, Til," he said; "it isn't as if we were swells, 
you know, with our names, ages, and weights in the Morning 



392 Land at Last. 

Post, and our addresses in the Red Book. What need we 
care, if Geoff don't mind ? — and he won't, God bless him ! — 
the happier we are, the sooner he'll cease to be miserable ; 
and who's to know or to care whether it's so many months 
sooner or later after that poor woman's death? Besides, 
consider this, Til ; if we wait until Geoff comes home, a 
wedding and all that won't be pleasant for him : will it, 
now ? Painful associations you know, and all that. I really 
think, for Geoff's sake, we had better get it over." 

" Do you indeed, Master Charley ?" said Til, with a smile 
full of pert drollery, which rendered her exasperatingly 
pretty. " How wonderfully considerate you are of Geoff; 
and how marvellously polite to describe marrying me as 
'getting it over'! No, no, Charley," she continued, se- 
riously ; " it cannot be. I could not leave mamma to the 
responsibility of the house and the child — at least not yet. 
Don't ask me ; it would not be right towards Geoff, or fair 
to my mother. You must wait, sir." 

And the crestfallen Charley knew that he must wait, and 
acquiesced with a very bad grace; not but that Miss Til 
would have been horribly vexed had it been better. 

An unexpected auxiliary was about this time being driven 
by fate towards Charley Potts in the person of Annie 
Maurice. She had been constant and regular in her visits 
to Elm Lodge, affectionate and respectful in her demeanour 
to Mrs. Ludlow, and- sisterly in her confidence towards Til. 
The hour that had united the two girls in a tie of common 
responsibility towards Geoff and Margaret had witnessed the 
formation of a strong and lasting friendship; and though 
Annie's superior refinement and higher education raised her 
above the level of Matilda Ludlow, she was not more than 
her equal in true womanly worth. They passed many happy 
hours together in converse which had now become cheerful, 
and their companionship was strengthened by the bond of 
their common interest in Til's absent brother. Miss Ludlow, 
perhaps, did an unfair proportion of the talking on these 
occasions ; for she was of the gushing order of girls, though 
she did not border even remotely on silliness. By common 
consent they did not speak of Margaret, and Til had never 
known Arthur; so that Annie rarely talked of him, always 
sacredly loved and remembered in her faithful heart, pre- 
served as her friend and monitor — dead, yet speaking. 



Land at Last. 



393 



Annie had been more silent than usual lately, and had 
looked sad and troubled ; and it chanced that on the day 
following that which witnessed Charley's luckless proposition, 
Miss Maurice arrived at Elm Lodge at an earlier hour than 
usual ; and having gained a private audience of Til, made 
to her a somewhat startling revelation. 

The conference between the girls lasted long, and its 
object took Til completely by surprise. Annie Maurice 
had resolved upon leaving Lord Beauport's house, and she 
had come to ask Mrs. Ludlow to receive her. She told Til 
her reasons, simply, honestly, and plainly. 

" I cannot live in the house with Lionel Brakespere," she 
said ; " and I have no friends but you. Geoffrey and I were 
always friends, and my dear Arthur trusted him, and knew 
he would befriend me. I am sure if he were living now, he 
would counsel me to do what I am doing. I have often 
thought if he had had any idea that the end was so near, he 
would have told me, if any difficulty came in my way, to 
apply for aid to Geoffrey, and I am clear that I am doing 
right now. I have no friends, Til, though I am rich," Annie 
repeated, with a more bitter smile than had ever flitted over 
her bright face in former days ; " and I have no ' position ' 
to keep up. I cannot go and live in a big house by myself, 
or in a small one either, for that matter, and I want your 
mother to let me come and live with her while Geoffrey is 
away." 

Til hesitated before she replied. She saw difficulties in 
the way of such an arrangement which Annie did not; 
difficulties arising from the difference in the social position 
of the friends Annie wished to leave, and those she wished 
to come to. 

"I am sure, as far as we are concerned, every thing might 
be as you wish," she said ; " but — Lady Beauport might not 
think it quite the thing." 

" Lady Beauport knows I will not remain in her house, 
Til ; and she will soon see as plainly as I do that it is well I 
should not. The choice is between me and her son, and 
the selection is not difficult. Lionel Brakespere {I cannot 
call him by Arthur's familiar name) and I are not on speak- 
ing terms. He knows that I am acquainted with his crimes; 
not only those known to his family, but those which he 
thought death had assisted him to hide. I might have con- 



394 Land at Last. 

cealed my knowledge from him, had he not dared to insult 
me by an odious pretence of admiration, which I resented 
with all my heart and soul. A few words made him un- 
derstand that the safest course he could pursue was to 
abandon such a pretence, and the revelation filled him with 
such wrath and hatred as only such a nature could feel. 
Why he has adopted a line of behaviour which can only 
be described as down-right savage rudeness — so evidently 
intended to drive me out of the house, that Lord and Lady 
Beauport themselves see it in that light — I am unable to 
comprehend. I have sometimes fancied that he and his 
mother have quarrelled on the matter ; but if so, he has had 
the best of it. However, there is no use in discussing it, 
Til; my home is broken up and gone from me ; and if your 
mother will not take me under her charge until Geoffrey 
comes home, and advises me for the future, I must only set 
up somewhere with a companion and a cat." 

Annie smiled, but very sadly ; then she continued : 

"And now, Til, I'll tell you how we will manage. First, 
we will get the mother's leave, and I will invite myself 
on a visit here, to act as your bridesmaid, you see, and — " 

"Charley has been talking to you, Annie!" exclaimed 
Miss Til, starting up in mingled indignation and amusement : 
" I see it all now — you have been playing into each other's 
hands." 

" No, indeed, Charley never said a word to me about it," 
replied Annie seriously ; " though I am sure if he had, I 
should have done any thing he asked ; but, Til, do let us be 
earnest, — I am serious in this. I don't want to make a 
scandal and a misery of this business of my removal from 
Lord Beauport's ; and if I can come here to be your brides- 
maid, in a quiet way, and remain with your mother when 
you have left her, it will seem a natural sort of arrangement, 
and I shall very soon, heiress though I am, drop out of the 
memory of the set in which I have lately moved. I am sure 
Geoffrey will be pleased ; and you know that dear little 
Arthur is quite fond of me already." 

It is unnecessary to report the conversation between the 
two girls in fuller detail. Mrs. Maurice carried her point ; 
the consent of Mrs. Ludlow to the proposed arrangement 
was easily gained ; and one day the fine carriage with the 
fine coronets, which had excited the admiration of the neigh- 



Land at Last. 395 

bourhood when Miss Maurice paid her first visit to Geoffrey 
Ludlow's bride, deposited that young lady and her maid at 
Elm Lodge. A few days later a more modest equipage bore 
away Mr. and Mrs. Potts on the first stage of their journey 
of life. 

'• And so, my dear Annie," wrote Geoffrey to his ex-pupil, 
" you are established in the quiet house in which I dreamed 
dreams once on a time. I continue the children's phrase, 
and say ' a long time ago.' I am glad to think of you there 
with my mother and my poor little child. If you were any 
one but Annie Maurice, I might fear that you would weary 
of the confined sphere to which you have gone ; but, then, 
it is because you are Annie Maurice that you are there. 
Sometimes I wonder whether I shall ever see the place 
again, which, if ever I do see it, I must look upon with such 
altered eyes. God knows : it will be long first — for I am 
wofully weak still. But enough of me. My picture goes on 
splendidly. When it is finished and s&nt home to Stompff, 
I shall start for Egypt. I suppose many a one before me 
has tried to find the waters of Lethe between the banks of 
Nile." 

Charley Potts and Til were comfortably settled in the 
house at Brompton, where Til guarded the household gods 
with pious care, and made Charley uncommonly comfortable 
and abnormally orderly. Mrs. Ludlow and her young guest 
led a tranquil life at Elm Lodge. Annie devoted herself to the 
old lady and the child with a skilful tenderness partly natural 
to her and partly acquired by the experiences of her life in her 
rural home, and within the scene of Caterham's lengthened 
and patient suffering. The child loved her and throve under 
her charge; and the old lady seemed to find her " cross " con- 
siderably less troublesome within the influence of Annie's 
tranquil cheerfulness, strong sense, and accommodating dispo- 
sition. The neighbourhood had taken to calling vigorously 
and pertinaciously on Mrs. Ludlow and Miss Maurice. It 
approved highly of those ladies ; for the younger was very 
pleasant, not alarmingly beautiful, reputed to be very rich, 
and acknowledged not to "give herself airs;" while the elder 
was intensely respectable — after the fashion dear to the 
heart of Lowbar ; and both went to church with scrupulous 
regularity. Dr. Brandram was even more cordial in hia 



396 Land at Last. 

appreciation of Annie than he had been in his admiration 
of Margaret; and the star of Elm Lodge was quite in the 
ascendant. A few of the members of the great world whom 
she had met in the celestial sphere of St. Barnabas Square 
found Annie out even at Elm Lodge, and the apparition of 
other coronets than that of the Beauports was not unknown 
in the salubrious suburb. Lady Beauport visited Miss 
Maurice but rarely, and her advent seldom gave Annie 
pleasure. The girl's affectionate and generous heart was 
pained by the alteration which she marked more and more 
distinctly each time that she saw the cold and haughty 
Countess, on whose face care was fast making marks which 
time had failed to impress. 

Sometimes she would be almost silent during her short 
visits, on which occasions Mrs. Ludlow was wont to disappear 
as soon as possible ; sometimes she would find querulous 
fault with Annie — with her appearance and her dress, and 
her " throwing herself away." Sometimes Annie felt that she 
was endeavouring to turn the conversation in the direction 
of Lionel ; but that she invariably resisted. It chanced one 
day, however, that she could not succeed in preventing Lady 
Beauport from talking of him. Time had travelled on since 
Annie had taken up her abode at Elm Lodge, and the 
summer was waning ; the legislative labours of the Houses 
had come to an end, and Lord and Lady Beauport were 
about to leave town. This time the Countess had come to 
say good-bye to Annie, whom she found engaged in prepara- 
tions for a general flitting of the Elm-Lodge household to 
the seaside for the autumn. Annie was in blooming health, 
and her usual agreeable spirits — a strong contrast to the 
faded, jaded, cross-looking woman who said to her com- 
plainingly, 

"Really, Annie, I think you might have come with us, 
and left your friends here to find their autumnal amusements 
for themselves ; you know how much Lord Beauport and I 
wished it." 

"Yes," said Annie gently, " I know you are both very 
kind ; but it cannot be. You saw that yourself, dear Lady 
Beauport, and consented to my entering on so different a 
life. You see I could not combine the two ; and I have new 
duties now — " 

" Nonsense, Annie !" said Lady Beauport angrily. " You 



Land at Last. 397 

will not come because of Lionel, — that is the truth. Well, 
he is not to be at home at all; he is going away to a number 
of places : he likes any place better than home, I think. I 
cannot understand why you and he should disagree so much; 
but if it must be so, I suppose it must. However, you will 
not meet him now." And Lady Beauport actually con- 
descended to reiterate her request ; but she had no success. 
Annie had resolutely broken with the old life, which had 
never suited her fresh, genial, simple tastes ; and she was 
determined not to renew the tie. She knew that she was 
not in any true sense necessary to Lady Beauport's happiness; 
she was not ungrateful for such kindness as she had received ; 
but she was a sensible girl, and she made no mistake about 
her own value, and the true direction in which her duty, her 
vocation lay. So she steadily declined ; but so gently that 
no offence was taken ; and made inquiry for Lord Beauport. 
The worried expression which had gradually marred the 
high-bred repose of Lady Beauport's face increased as she 
replied, and there was a kind of involuntary confidence in 
her manner which struck Annie with a new and painful 
surprise. Lord Beauport was well, she said ; but he was 
not in good spirits. Things seemed to be wrong with them 
somehow and out of joint. Then the elder lady, seeing in 
the face of her young listener such true sympathy, thawed 
suddenly from her habitual proud reserve, and poured out 
the bitterness of her disappointment and vain regret. There 
was a tone of reproach against Annie mingled with her 
compliant, which the girl pityingly passed over. If Annie 
had but liked Lionel ; if she would but have tried to attract him, 
and keep him at home, all might have been well: but Annie 
had imbibed poor Arthur's prejudices; and surely never were 
parents so unfortunate as she and the Earl in the mutual 
dislike which existed between their children. Lady Beauport 
did not want to justify Lionel entirely — of course not : but 
she thought he might have had a better chance given him 
in the first instance. Now he had greatly deteriorated — she 
saw that : she could not deny it ; and her "granted prayer " 
for his return had not brought her happiness. 

Annie listened to all this with a swelling heart. A vision 
floated before her tearful eyes of the lost son, who had been 
so little loved, so lightly prized ; whose place the brother 
preferred before him had taken and disgraced; and a ter- 



398 Land at Last. 

rible sense of retribution came into her mind. Too late the 
father and mother were learning how true his judgment had 
been, and how valuable his silent influence. Time could 
only engrave that lesson more and more deeply on their 
hearts ; experience could only embitter it — its sting was 
never to be withdrawn. They had chosen between the two, 
and their choice, like Esau's, was "profane." Lady Beauport 
spoke more and more bitterly as she proceeded. The 
softening touch of grief was not upon her — only the rankling 
of disappointment and mortification ; only the sting of a 
son's ingratitude, of discovering that in return for the sacrifice 
of principle, self-respect, and dignity to which she had con- 
sented for Lionel's sake, she had not received even the 
poor return of a semblance of affection or consideration. 

The hardness of Lionel's nature was shown in every thing 
his mother said of him — the utter want of feeling, the deadness 
of soul. Annie felt very sad as she listened to Lady Beauport's 
melancholy account of the life they had fallen into at the 
great house. She was oppressed by the sense of the strange- 
ness of the events which had befallen, and in which the 
Countess had, all unconsciously, so deep an interest. It 
was very sad and strange to remember that she was detailing 
the conduct of the man whose baseness had enabled Marga- 
ret to lay Geoffrey's life in ruins under Geoffrey's own roof. 
It was terrible to Annie to feel that in her knowledge there 
was a secret which might so easily have been divulged at any 
moment, and which would have afflicted the vexed and 
mortified woman before her more deeply than any thing 
that had occurred. Lady Beauport was not tender-hearted ; 
but she was a high-minded gentlewoman, and would have 
been shamed and stricken to the soul had she discovered 
the baseness of her son in this particular instance. She 
had fondly flattered herself into a belief that the crime which 
had been so inadequately punished was only a folly; but 
there was no possibility of such a reading of this one, and 
Annie was glad to think that at least the pang of this 
knowledge was spared to Lady Beauport. She could say 
nothing to comfort her. In her inmost heart she had an 
uneasy, unexplained sense that it was all the just retribution 
for the conduct of Arthur's parents towards him, and 
hopelessness for the future of a family of which Lionel 
formed a member took possession of her. 



Land at Last. 399 

"He is so disagreeable, so selfish, Annie," continued Lady 
Beauport, "and O so slangy; and you know how his fatner 
hates that sort of thing." 

" It is better that he should be away, then, for a little," 
said Annie, trying to be soothing, and failing lamentably. 

" Well, perhaps it is," said Lady Beauport ; " and yet that 
seems hard too, when I longed so much for his return, and 
when now he has every thing he wants. Of course, when 
he was only a second son, he had excuses for discontent ; 
but now he has none, and yet he is never satisfied. I 
sometimes think he is ill at ease, and fancies people are 
thinking about the past, who don't even know any thing 
about it, and would not trouble themselves to resent it if 
they did. But his father does not agree with me, Annie : he 
will not give Lionel credit for any thing good. I cannot 
make out Lord Beauport : he is much more cold and stern 
towards Lionel than he need be, for he is not so careless 
and inconsiderate towards his father as he is towards me. 
He seems to have taken up poor Arthur's notions now, and 
to judge Lionel as severely as he did. He does not say 
much ; but things are uncomfortable between them, and 
Lord Beauport is altered in every way. He is silent and 
dispirited ; and do you know, Annie, I think he grieves for 
Arthur more than he did at first?" 

Distress and perplexity were in Lady Beauport's face 
and voice, and they went to Annie's gentle heart. 

"Try not to think so much of it," she said; "circumstances 
may alter considerably when Lionel gets more settled at 
home, and Lord Beauport has had time to get over the irrita- 
tion which his return occasioned him." 

" He resents your having left us more bitterly than any 
thing, Annie. He constantly speaks of you in the highest 
terms of praise, and wishes you back with us. And so do 
I, my dear, so do I." 

Annie was amazed. Tears were in Lady Beauport's eyes, 
and a tremble in her voice. During all the period of Annie's 
residence in her house, the Countess had never shown so 
much feeling towards her, had never suffered her to feel 
herself of so much importance. The sterling merit of the 
girl, her self-denial, her companionable qualities, had never 
before met with so much recognition; and a thrill of gratifi- 
cation passed through her as she felt that she was missed 



400 Land at Last. 

and valued in the home whence Lionel's conduct had 
driven her. 

" I am very glad," she said, " that Lord Beauport thinks 
and speaks so kindly of me — indeed, he was always kind to 
me, and I am very grateful to him and you." 

" Then why will you not come to us, Annie ? Why do 
you prefer these new friends to us ?" 

" I do not," she answered ; " but as things have been, as 
they are, it is better I should not be in a position possibly 
to estrange the father and son still more. If I were in the 
house, it would only furnish him with an excuse to remain 
away, and cause Lord Beauport additional anxiety." 

Annie knew that she must appear strangely obstinate to 
Lady Beauport; but it could not be helped; it was impossible 
that she could explain. The visit of the Countess was a 
long one ; and Annie gathered from her further confidences 
that her dissatisfation with Lionel was not her only trouble. 
The future was not bright before Lady Beauport. The 
charms of the world were fading in her estimation ; society 
was losing its allurements, not under the chastening of a 
wholesome grief, but under the corroding, disenchanting in- 
fluence of bitterness and disappointment. She looked aged 
and wearied ; and before she and Annie parted that day, 
she had acknowledged to the girl that she dreaded the 
prospect before her, and had no confidence in her only son, 
or in his line of conduct towards her in the event of Lord 
Beauport's death. The Earl's words to his wife had been 
prophetic, — in Caterham's death there had been but the 
beginning of sorrow. 

Annie stood sadly at the house-door, and watched the 
carriage as it rolled away and bore Lady Beauport out oi 
her sight, as it bears her out of this history. 

" This is the man," she thought, "whom she would have 
remorselessly made me marry, and been insensible to the 
cruel wrong she would have done to me. What a wonderful 
thing is that boundless, blind egotism of mothers ! In one 
breath she confesses that he makes her miserable, and admits 
his contemptible, wretched nature, though she knows little of 
its real evil ; in the next she complains that I did not 
tie myself to the miserable destiny of being his wife !" 

Then Annie turned into the drawing-room, and went over 
to the window, through whose panes Margaret's wistful, 



Land at Last, 401 

weary gaze had oeen so often and so long directed. She 
leaned one round fair arm against the glass, and laid her 
sleek brown head upon it, musingly : 

"I wonder when home will really come for me," she thought. 
" I wonder where I shall go to, and what I shall do, when I 
must leave this. I wonder if little Arthur will miss me very 
much when I go away, after Geoffrey comes back." 

Geoffrey Ludlow's letters to his mother and sister were 
neither numerous nor voluminous, but they were explicit ; 
and the anxious hearts at home gradually began to feel more 
at rest about the absent one so dear to them all. He had 
written with much kindness and sympathy on the occasion 
of Til's marriage, and they had all felt what a testimony to 
his unselfish nature and his generous heart his letter was. 
With what pangs of memory, — what keen revivals of vain 
longing love and cruel grief for the beautiful woman who had 
gone down into her grave with the full ardour of his pas- 
sionate devotion still clinging around her, — what desperate 
struggles against the weariness of spirit which made every 
thing a burden to him, — Geoffrey had written the warm frank 
letter over which Til had cried, and Charley had glowed 
with pleasure, the recipients never knew. There was one 
who guessed them, — one who seemed to herself intuitively to 
realise them all, to weigh and measure every movement of 
the strong heart which had so much ado to keep itself from 
breaking, far away in the distant countries, until time should 
have had sufficient space in which to work its inevitable 
cure. Mrs. Potts showed her brother's letter to Annie 
Maurice with infinite delight, on that memorable day when 
she made her first visit, as a married woman, to Elm Lodge. 
The flutter and excitement of so special an occasion makes 
itself felt amid all the other flutters and excitements of that 
period which is the great epoch in a woman's life. The 
delights of " a home of one's own " are never so truly realised 
as when the bride returns, as a guest, to the home she has left 
for ever as an inmate. It may be much more luxurious, much 
more important, much more wealthy ; but it is not hers, and, 
above all, it is not "his;" and the little sense of strangeness 
is felt to be an exquisite and a new pleasure. Til was just the 
sort of girl to feel this to the fullest, though her " own " house 
was actually her " old " home, and she had never been a 
resident at Elm Lodge : but the house at Brompton had a 

3 D 



4<>« Land at Last. 

thousand charms now which Til had never found in it before, 
and on which she expatiated eagerly to Mrs. Ludlow, while 
Annie Maurice was reading Geoffrey's letter. She was very 
pale when she handed it back to Til, and there were large 
tears standing in her full brown eyes. 

" Isn't it a delightful letter, Annie ?" asked Mrs. Potts ; 
" so kind and genial ; so exactly like dear old Geoff." 

" Yes," Annie replied, very softly ; " it is indeed, Til ; 
it is very like Geoffrey." 

Then Annie went to look after little Arthur, and left the 
mother and daughter to their delightful confidential talk. 

When the party from Elm Lodge were at the seaside, 
after Til's marriage, Annie began to write pretty regularly to 
Geoffrey, who was then in Egypt. She was always thinking 
of him, and of how his mind was to be roused from its 
grief, and once more interested in life. She felt that he was 
labouring at his art for money, and because he desired to 
secure the future of those dear to him, in the sense of duty, 
but that for him the fame which he was rapidly winning was 
very little worth, and the glory was quite gone out of life, — 
gone down, with the golden hair and the violet eyes, into the 
dust which was lying upon them. Annie, who had never 
known a similar grief, understood his in all its intricacies of 
suffering, with the intuitive comprehension of the heart, 
which happily stands many a woman instead of intellectual 
gifts and the learning of experience ; and knowing this, the 
girl, whose unselfish spirit read the heart of her early friend, 
but never questioned her own, sought with all her simple 
and earnest zeal how to " cure him of his cruel wound." 
His picture had been one of the gems of the Academy, one 
of the great successes of the year, and Annie had written to 
him enthusiastically about it, as his mother had also done ; 
but she counted nothing upon this. Geoffrey was wearily 
pleased that they were pleased and gratified, but that was all. 
His hand did its work, but the soul was not there ; and as 
he was now working amid the ruins of a dead world, and a 
nation passed away in the early youth of time, his mood was 
congenial to it, and he grew to like the select lapse of the 
sultry desert life, and to rebel less and less against his fate, 
in the distant land whsre every thing was strange, and there 
was no fear of a touch upon the torturing nerves of asso- 
ciation. All this Annie Maurice divined, and turned con- 



Land at Last. 403 

stantly in her mind ; and amidst the numerous duties to 
which she devoted herself with the quiet steadiness which 
was one of her strongest characteristics, she thought in- 
cessantly of Geoffrey, and of how the cloud was to be lifted 
from him. Her life was a busy one, for all the real cares of 
the household rested upon her. Mrs. Ludlow had been an 
admirable manager of her own house, and in her own sphere, 
but she did not understand the scale on which Elm Lodge 
had been maintained even in Margaret's time, and that 
which Miss Maurice established was altogether beyond her 
reach. The old lady was very happy ; that was quite evident. 
She and Annie agreed admirably. The younger lady studied 
her peculiarities with the utmost care and forbearance, and 
the " cross " sat lightly now. She was growing old ; and what 
she did not see she had lost the faculty of grieving for ; and 
Geoffrey was well, and winning fame and money. It seemed 
a long time ago now since she had regarded her daughter-in- 
law's furniture and dress with envy, and speculated upon 
the remote possibility of some day driving in her son's 
carriage. 

Mrs. Ludlow had a carriage always at her service now, and 
the most cheerful of companions in her daily drive ; for she, 
Annie, and the child made country excursions every after- 
noon, and the only time the girl kept for her exclusive enjoy- 
ment was that devoted to her early-morning rides. Some of 
the earliest among the loungers by the sad sea-waves grew 
accustomed to observe, with a sense of admiration and 
pleasure, the fresh fair face of Annie Maurice, as, flushed 
with exercise and blooming like a rose in the morning air, 
she would dismount at the door of her " marine villa," where 
a wee toddling child always awaited her coming, who was 
immediately lifted to her saddle, and indulged with a few 
gentle pacings up and down before the windows, whence an 
old lady would watch the group with grave delight. Mrs. 
Ludlow wrote all these and many more particulars of her 
happy life to her absent son ; and sometimes Annie wondered 
whether those cheerful garrulous letters, in which the un- 
conscious mother showed Geoffrey so plainly how little she 
realised his state of mind, increased his sense of loneliness. 
Then she bethought her of writing to Geoffrey constantly 
about the child. She knew how he had loved the baby in 
happier times, and she never wronged the heart she knew so 

2D? 



4 o 4 Land at Last. 

well by a suspicion that the disgrace and calamity which had 
befallen him had changed this deep-dwelling sentiment, or 
included the motherless child in its fatal gloom. She had 
not spoken of little Arthur in her earlier letters more than 
cursorily, assuring his father that the child was well and 
thriving ; but now that time was going over, and the little 
boy's intellect was unfolding, she caught at the legitimate 
source of interest for Geoffrey, and consulted him eagerly 
and continuously about her little protege and pupil. 

The autumn passed and the winter came; and Mrs. 
Ludlow, her grandchild, and Annie Maurice were settled at 
Elm Lodge. Annie had taken anew to her painting, and 
Geoffrey's deserted studio had again an inmate. Hither 
would come Charley Potts — a genial gentleman still, but 
with much added steadiness and scrupulously-neat attire. 
The wholesome subjugation of a happy marriage was agreeing 
wonderfully with Charley, and his faith in Til was perfectly 
unbounded. He was a model of punctuality now ; and 
when he " did a turn " for Annie in the painting-room, he 
brushed his coat before encountering the unartistic world 
outside with a careful scrupulousness, at which, in the days 
of Caroline and the beer-signals, he would have derisively 
mocked. Another visitor was not infrequent there, though 
he had needed much coaxing to induce him to come, and 
had winced from the sight of Geoff's ghostly easel on his 
first visit with keen and perceptible pain. 

A strong mutual liking existed between William Bowker 
and Annie Maurice. Each had recognised the sterling 
value of the other on the memorable occasion of their first 
meeting ; and the rough exterior of Bowker being less per- 
ceptible then than under ordinary circumstances, it had 
never jarred with Annie's taste or offended against her sen- 
sibilities. So it came to pass that these two incongruous 
persons became great friends ; and William Bowker — always 
a gentleman in the presence of any woman in whom he 
recognised the soul of a lady — passed many hours such as 
he had never thought life could again give him in his dear 
old friend's deserted home. Miss Maurice had no inadequate 
idea of the social duties which her wealth imposed upon her 
and she discharged them with the conscientiousness which 
Jent her character its combined firmness and sweetness. 
l>ut all her delight was in her adopted home, and in the 



Land at Last. 405 

child, for whom she thought and planned with almost 
maternal foresight and quite maternal affection. William 
Bowker also delighted in the boy, and would have expended 
an altogether unreasonable portion of his slender substance 
upon indigestible eatables and curiously-ingenious and des- 
tructible toys but for Annie's prohibition, to which he yielded 
loyal obedience. Many a talk had the strangely-assorted 
pair of friends as they watched the child's play ; and they 
generally ran on Geoffrey, or if they rambled off from him 
for a while, returned to him through strange and tortuous 
ways. Not one of Geoff's friends forgot him, or ceased to 
miss him, and to wish him back among them. Not one of 
" the boys " but had grieved in his simple uncultivated way 
over the only half-understood domestic calamity which had 
fallen upon " old Geoff j" but time has passed, and they had 
begun to talk more of his pictures and less of himself. It 
was otherwise with Bowker, whose actual associates were few, 
though his spirit of camaraderie was unbounded. He had 
always loved Geoffrey Ludlow with a peculiar affection, in 
which there had been an unexplained foreboding ; and its 
full and terrible realisation had been a great epoch in the 
life of William Bowker. It had broken up the sealed 
fountains of feeling ; it had driven him away from the grave 
of the past ; it had brought his strong sympathies and strong 
sense into action, and had effected a moral revolution in the 
lonely man, who had been soured by trouble only in appear- 
ance, but in whom the pure sweet springs of the life of the 
heart still existed. Now he began to weary for Geoffrey. 
He dreaded to see his friend sinking into the listlessness and 
dreariness which had wasted his own life ; and Geoffrey's 
material prosperity, strongly as it contrasted with the poverty 
and neglect which had been his own lot, did not enter into 
Bowker's calculations with any reassuring effect. 

" Does Geoffrey never fix any time for his return ?" asked 
William Bowker of Miss Maurice one summer evening 
when they were slowly pacing about the lawn at Elm Lodge, 
after the important ceremonial of little Arthur's coucher had 
been performed. 

" No," said Annie, with a quick and painful blush. 

" I wish he would, then," said Bowker. " He has been 
away quite long enough now ; and he ought to come home 
and face his duties like a man, and thank God that he has a 



406 Land at Last. 

home, and duties which don't all centre in himself. If they 
did, the less he observed them the better." This with a 
touch of the old bitterness, rarely apparent now. Annie 
did not answer, and Bowker went on : 

" His mother wants him, his child wants him, and for that 
matter Mrs. Potts's child wants him too. Charley talks some 
nonsense about waiting to baptize the little girl until Geoff 
comes home 'with water from the Jordan,' said Master 
Charley, being uncertain in his geography, and having some 
confused notion about some sacred river. However, if we 
could only get him home, he might bottle a little of the Nile 
for us instead. I really wish he'd come. I want to know 
how far he has really lived down his trouble ; I can't bear to 
think that it may conquer and spoil him." 

" It has not done that ; it won't do that — no fear of it," 
said Annie eagerly ; "I can tell from his letters that 
Geoffrey is a strong man again, — stronger than he has ever 
been before." 

" He needs to be, Miss Maurice," said William, with a 
short, kind, sounding laugh, "for Geoffrey's nature is not 
strong. I don't think I ever knew a weaker man but 
one—" 

He paused, but Annie made no remark. Presently he 
fell to talking of the child and his likeness to Geoffrey, which 
was very strong and very striking. 

" There is not a trace of the poor mother in him," said 
Bowker ; " I am glad of it. The less there is before Geoffrey's 
eyes when he returns to remind him of the past the 
better." 

" And yet," said Annie in a low voice, and with something 
troubled in her manner, " I have often thought if he returned, 
and I saw his meeting with the child, how dreadful it would 
be to watch him looking for a trace of the dead in little 
Arthur's face, and not finding it, to know that he felt the 
world doubly empty." 

Her face was half averted from Bowker as she spoke, and 
he looked at her curiously and long. He marked the 
sudden flush and pallor of her cheek, and the hurry in her 
words ; and a bright unusual light came into William Bowker's 
eyes. He only said, 

' '" Ay— that would indeed be a pang the more." And a few 
minutes later he took his leave. 



Land at Last. 407 

" Charley," said Mr. Bowker to Mr. Potts, three or four 
Gays afterwards, as he stood before that gentleman's easel, 
criticising the performance upon it with his accustomed 
science and freedom, " why don't you get your wife to write 
to Geoffrey, and make him come home? He ought to 
come, you know, and it's not for you or me to remonstrate 
with him. Women do these things better than men ; they 
can handle sores without hurting them, and pull at heart- 
strings without making them crack. There's his mother, 
growing old, you know, and wanting to see him ; and the 
child's a fine young shaver now, and his father ought to 
know something of him, eh, Charley, what do you think?" 

" You're about right, old fellow, that's what I think. Til 
often talks about it, particularly since the baby was born, 
and wonders how Geoffrey can stay away ; but I suppose 
if his own child won't bring him home, ours can't be ex- 
pected to do it ; eh, William ? Til doesn't think of that, 
you see." 

" I see," said Mr. Bowker, with a smile. " But, Charley, 
do you just get Til to write to Geoffrey, and tell him his 
mother is not as strong as she used to be, and that the care 
of her and the child is rather too much of a responsibility 
to rest upon Miss Maurice's shoulders, and I think Geoffrey 
will see the matter in the true light, and come home at 
once." 

Charley promised to obey Mr. Bowker's injunction, pre- 
mising that he must first "talk it over with Til." William 
made no objection to this perfectly proper arrangement, and 
felt no uneasiness respecting the result of the conjugal dis- 
cussion. He walked away smiling, congratulating himself 
on having done " rather a deep thing," and full of visions 
in which Geoffrey played a part which would have con- 
siderably astonished him, had its nature been revealed to 
him. 

Six weeks after the conversation between Mr. Bowker and 
Mr. Potts, a foreign letter in Geoffrey's hand reached Mrs. 
Ludlow. She hardly gave herself time to read it through, 
before she sought to impart its tidings to Annie. The young 
lady was not in the painting-room, not in the drawing-room, 
not in the house. The footman thought he had seen her on 
the lawn with the child, going towards the swing. Thither 



408 Land at Last. 

Mrs. Ludlow proceeded, and there she found Annie; her 
hat flung off, her brown hair falling about her shoulders, and 
her graceful arms extended to their full length as she swung 
the delighted child, who shouted "higher, higher !" after the 
fashion of children. 

" Geoffrey's coming home, Annie !" said Mrs. Ludlow, as 
soon as she reached the side of the almost breathless girl. 
" He's coming home immediately, — by the next mail. Is 
not that good news ?" 

The rope had dropped from Annie's hand at the first 
sentence. Now she stooped, picked up her hat, and put it 
on ; and turning to lift the child from his seat, she said, 

" Yes, indeed, Mrs. Ludlow, it is ; but very sudden. Has 
any thing happened ?" 

" Nothing whatever, my dear. Geoffrey only says — stay, 
here's his letter ; read for yourself. He merely says he feels 
it is time to come home ; he has got all the good out of his 
captivity in Egypt in every way that he is likely to get — 
though why he should call it captivity when he went there 
of his own accord, and could have come away at any 
moment he liked, is more than I can understand. Well, 
well, Geoffrey always had queer sayings ; but what matter, 
now that he is coming home ! — Papa is coming home, Arty; 
— we shall see him soon." 

"Shall we?" said the child. "Let me go, Annie; you 
are making my hand cold with yours ;" and he slipped his 
little hand from her grasp, and ran on to the house, where 
he imparted the news to the household with an air of vast 
importance. 

"Annie," said Geoffrey Ludlow one day when he had 
been about three weeks at home, and after he had passed 
some time in examining Miss Maurice's art-performances, 
" what has become of the drawing I once made of you, long 
ago, when you were a little girl ? Don't you remember you 
laughed at it, and said, ' Grandmamma, grandmamma, what 
big eyes you've got !' to it ? and the dear old Rector was so 
dreadfully frightened lest I should be offended." 

" Yes, I remember," answered Annie ; " and I have the 
picture. Why ?" 

" Because I want it, Annie. If you will let me have it, I 



Land at Last. 409 

will paint a full-length portrait of you for the next Academy, 
in which every one shall recognise a striking likeness of the 
beautiful and accomplished Miss Maurice." 

" Don't, Geoffrey," said Annie gravely. " I am not in 
the least more beautiful now than I was when you took my 
likeness long ago ; but you shall have the drawing, and you 
shall paint the picture, and it shall belong to Arthur, to 
remind him of me when I am gone abroad." 

" Gone abroad !" said Geoffrey, starting up from his chair 
and approaching her. " You — gone abroad ! " 

" Yes," she said, with a very faint smile. " Is no one to 
see men and cities, and sand and sphinxes, and mummies, 
and Nile boatmen, except yourself? Don't you remember 
how Caterham always wished me to travel and improve my 
mind ?" 

"I remember," said Geoff moodily; "but I don't think 
your mind wants improving, Annie. How selfish lam! I 
really had a kind of fancy that this was your home ; different 
as it is from such as you might, as you may command, it 
was your own choice once. You see what creatures we 
men are. A woman like you sacrifices herself for one of us, 
to do him good in his adversity, and he takes it as a matter 
of course that the sacrifice is to continue — " Geoffrey 
turned to the window, and looked wearily out. From the 
dim corner in which she sat, Annie looked timidly at his tall 
figure — a true image of manliness and vigour. She could 
see the bronzed cheek, the full rich brown eye, the bushy 
beard with its mingled lines of brown and gray. There was 
far more strength in the face than in former days, and far 
more refinement, a deeper tenderness, and a loftier meaning. 
She thought so as she looked at him, and her heart beat 
hard and fast. 

" It was no sacrifice to me, Geoffrey," she said in a very 
low tone. "You know I could not bear the life I was 
leading. I have been very happy here. Every one has 
been very good to me, and I have been very happy ; 
but—" 

Geoffrey turned abruptly, and looked at her — looked at 
the graceful head, the blushing cheek, the faltering lips — 
and went straight up to her. She shrunk just a little at his 
approach ; but when he laid his hand upon her shoulder, 



4io Land at Last. 

and bent his head down towards hers, she raised her sweet 
candid face and looked at him. 

"Annie," he said eagerly, with the quick earnestness of a 
man whose soul is in his words, " will you forgive all my 
mistakes, — I have found them out now, — and take the 
truest love that ever a man offered to the most perfect of 
women ? Annie, can you love me ? — will you stay with me ? 
My darling, say yes !" 

His strong arms were round her now, and her sleek 
brown head lay upon his breast. She raised it to look at 
him ; then folded her hands and laid them upon his shoul- 
ier, and with her crystal-clear eyes uplifted, said, "I will 
stay with you, Geoffrey. I have always loved you." 

The storm had blown itself out now — its last mutterings 
*iad died away; and through all its fury and despair, through 
sll its rude buffets and threatening of doom, Geoffrey Lud- 
low had reached Land at Last ! 



THE ENIX 



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